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Sunday, June 10, 2001

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What the Sarkaria Commission said

In the final report, the Sarkaria Commission came to the following conclusion on the allegations on the Veeranam scheme:

``It has been established that Shri. Karunanidhi, abusing his official position as Chief Minister, actuated with the motive to unduly favour Sathyanarayana Brothers with the award of the contract for the Veeranam project, directed the Chief Engineer, Shri. Hussain, to tailor his recommendations on the tenders in such a manner as would enable the Government to accept the tender of Sathyanarayana Bros....

''There is no doubt that Shri. Karunanidhi was interested in the contract being given to Sathyanarayana Bros. for some extraneous consideration. In this connection two circumstances have been firmly established: 1. Purushothaman's friendship with Maran and his exploiting this friendship to influence Karunanidhi and through him, Hussain; 2. The supply of materials worth about Rs. 59,202 by Purushothaman for construction of `Murasoli building' without accepting payment - a fact admitted by Maran himself.

``With regard to the alleged payment of illegal gratification of Rs. 29 lakhs in seven installments by Purushothaman to Karunanidhi, the story of Purushothaman is not such that it can be rejected breevi manu. But as he is admitted an accomplice, his evidence cannot be acted upon without corroboration in material particulars by independent evidence. The corroboration available is not adequate in extent and specificity and this evidence on record goes no further than establishing a preponderance of possibility, coming perilously close to probability, in favour of this charge. The charge of accepting illegal gratification has thus not been indubitably established against Shri. Karunanidhi.

''The decision to entrust the Veeranam project to M/s Sathyanarayana Bros. was undoubtedly a major administrative blunder. Huge advances were given to this firm, not covered by the contract agreement against simple indemnity bonds. The Accountant General has adversely commented on this.

``Public money to the extent of nearly Rs. 6 crores was squandered over this project and as rightly pointed out in the report of the Technical committee set up by the State Government, the project cannot now be brought to its successful conclusion, unless the foreign collaborators, M/S Vacrete, accept full responsibility for the manufacture, testing, laying and jointing of pipes.

To the public exchequer, it would mean an additional burden of several crores and to the public looking long for adequate water supply, a tortuous wait for at least two years more. The responsibility for this huge waste of public money must rest squarely on Shri Karunanidhi and Shri Sadiq Pasha.''

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