Kochi, September 19 : News channels were abuzz with speculation on Thursday that the arrest of former public works minister and muslim league leader V K Ebrahim Kunju is imminent in connection with the alleged corruption in the construction of the Palarivattom flyover in Kochi.
Talk of Ebrahim Kunju’s imminent arrest dominated the coverage of vernacular news channels after former public works secretary T O Sooraj, while speaking to mediapersons earlier in the day, reiterated the charge that the ex-public works minister had directed him to grant mobilisation advance to the contracting firm tasked with constructing the flyover.
Reporters of news channels then frenetically tried to contact Mr. Kunju to seek his response to Mr. Sooraj’s remarks but to no avail. Mr. Kunju’s mobile phone was reportedly switched off. Some reporters then made a beeline to the former minister’s house but could not get any information on his whereabouts. This triggered speculation that the former minister had gone incommunicado, fearing arrest.
Mr. Sooraj was arrested by the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau last month in connection with the Palarivattom flyover case on the charge of abusing his office and causing pecuniary loss to the state government by providing mobilisation advance of Rs. 8.25 crore to RDS projects limited, the contracting firm and levying only a meagre amount as interest for the advance given.
Mr. Sooraj had earlier put Mr. Ebrahim Kunju in the dock by averring in a bail plea before the Kerala high court that the advance amount was paid to the contracting firm at the behest of Mr. Ebrahim Kunju, who was the then public works minister in the UDF government.
Ebrahim Kunju was the public works minister in the previous UDF government. The Palarivattom flyover located on NH 66 bypass was commissioned in 2016. However, in 2018, the flyover came under a spotlight after cracks and fissures were detected. In May 2019, a technical team from IIT Chennai detected major structural issues and flaws in the construction of the flyover. Following this, the VACB arrested then public works secretary T O Sooraj and three others in connection with the alleged corruption in the construction of the flyover.