Kerala govt paid Rs 1 lakh a day to airport bidding consultant

Thiruvananthapuram: The State paid Rs one lakh per day as fee to the Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas Group, the legal consultants contracted to help the government take part in the airport bidding process. 

The company was made consultant in January and the bid submission was on February 14. The government paid the company a total of Rs 55 lakh. But the mismatch is that there are only 45 days,  considering that it worked without any off days. 

The fee was fixed at Rs 13,000 per hour and two representatives of the company had come for discussions with the government. Some company officials from Mumbai and Delhi too had come in between. 

In the invoice submitted after the bidding process, the company had billed the state for the travel time, starting from Mumbai. The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) objected to this. The company also informed the state government in writing of its position.  

After a lot of back-and-forth and discussion, the bill was paid after a couple of months. 

The panel headed by the chief secretary appointed Cyril Mangaldas as consultants as the bidding deadline was fast approaching and there was a lot of paperwork to do. 

The initial plan was that the company formed by the state government, Thiruvananthapuram International Airport Ltd, would take part in the tender. This faced some legal impediments and the KSIDC decided to take part in the bidding. The assets of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML) were both shown on the books by the KSIDC to breach the eligibility benchmark set for the bidding process. 

Adani link 

The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI-M] state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has said the state government was unaware of the consultant’s link with the Adani Group. Minister E.P. Jayarajan, who represented the government in the bidding process, also voiced the same opinion. 

The party secretary said the legal consultant should have withdrawn on itself and the state had not approached it with the knowledge that it was linked to the Adani group. He said the company which created the bid and the legal consultants did not have any links. 

The state government is in the midst of controversy after the Union government decided to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to the Adani Group. The state had participated in the bidding process and lost. The state is but opposing the leasing out of the airport. 

The Opposition Congress too had opposed the leasing out of the airport but party leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor said he supported the leasing out. He said he was speaking on the basis of data and statistics and would have explained the position to his party had it consulted him before making its opinion public.

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