The Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau on Wednesday arrested former Kerala PWD Minister VK brahim Kunju in connection with the irregularities in the construction of a flyover at Palarivattom in Kochi.
The VACB team arrested the former minister from a hospital in the city, where he was admitted the previous day. The minister was absent from his residence when the Vigilance team went to arrest him on Wednesday morning.
The arrest assumes significance for the State’s politics at a time when Kerala is heading for local body elections in December. The former minister Ebrahim Kunju belongs to the Indian Union Muslim League.
Reports of irregularities in the flyover construction were noticed last year. The 750-metre flyover constructed to ease traffic at Kochi at a cost of ₹42 crore was inaugurated in October 2016. But it was closed for traffic on May 1, 2019 on security concerns after detecting some defects in its construction. A team from IIT Madras also inspected the flyover and detected cracks in the girders and pillars.
The case against the former Minister, who is the fifth accused in the case, was that he had ordered the release of ₹9 crore from the Treasury as advance to the builder of the flyover at a nominal rate of interest. VACB officials told the court that this has cost the exchequer ₹60 lakh in terms of interest alone.
The VACB has so far arrested eight persons, including former PWD secretary TO Sooraj, in connection with the case.
The Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Ramesh Chennithala termed the arrest of the former minister as the act of the government to divert public attention when central agencies are holding multiple investigations against the government, including the Chief Minister’s office in the gold smuggling and corruption cases.