What led to DVAC raids on Velumani

Chennai: Sleuths of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) on Tuesday conducted at the residential and business premises of former AIADMK Minister S P Velumani and his associates in his native Coimbatore and other places in the State.

The simulaneous raids, which began in the morning, were held in about 60 places in Chennai, Coimbatore and other places in the States.

Velumani is considered as AIADMK’s strongman in the Western region and the party had swept almost all the seats in the belt in the recent Assembly polls.

As the news spread, tens and hundreds of AIADMK cadres and supporters of Velumani assembled in front of his residence and shouted slogans. Police had a tough time in controlling them.

Supporters of Velumani also staged a protest demonstration at the MLAs Guest House in Chennai, where the former Minister was questioned by the DVAC offcials in connection with the raid.

DVAC sources said cases were registered against Velumani and 17 others for indulging in massive irregularities in award of several contracts for civil works by the Greater Chennai and Coimbatore Municipal Corporations u/s 120-B, 420, 409 of the IPC.

Cases were also registered against KCP Engineers Private Limited, a firm close to the former
Minister, on the basis on a complaint lodged by B Gangadhar, Superintendent of Police, based on the outcome of a preliminary inquiry conducted by the DVAC.

The residences of a few government officials who were linked to Velumani were also searched, reports said.

Meanwhile, the AIADMK high command termed the raids as politically motivated and an act of vendetta by the ruling DMK and urged the state government to concentrate on taking up welfare measures of the people instead of targetting the former Ministers.

Besides the office/residence of the former Minister, DVAC officials also searched the premises of his close business associates, relatives and friends, the sources said. Velumani faced allegations of corruption, which were investigated by the DVAC, police said.

In the FIR, the DVAC said two complaints were received in 2018 from DMK MP R S Bharathi, and V Jayaraman, convener of ‘Arappor Iyakkam’.

A preliminary inquiry was conducted and the report forwarded to the government and a copy was submitted as status report to the Madras High Court.

It was alleged that Velumani had extended large-scale favouritism by abusing his official position as the Minister for Municipal Administration in the matters of awarding ‘construction’ and ‘supply of goods services’ tender works in Chennai and Coimbatore Municipal Corporations to his close associates, including his brother, their relatives and companies associated with them.

It was alleged that officials of the two Municipal Corporations had ‘blatantly violated all rules of business’ in allocation of tenders on the influence of the former Minister.

The DVAC said when a writ petition came up for hearing, the Madras High Court directed
that ‘the State should spare no efforts in getting to the bottom of the matter and proceed against those found to be responsible for the regularities’ and to conduct investigation.

The Court’s observation comes in the backdrop of the Comptroller and Auditor General report of 2016 highlighting injudicious awarding of tender has resulted in huge loss to the government in certain set of works executed by the greater Chennai Corporation during 2014-18.

Further investigations revealed that between 2014 and 2018 Velumani had wilfully abused his official position in the award of the work tenders in connivance with unknown officials of the Greater Chennai and Coimbatore Corporations to the tune of Rs 810 crore thereby causing undue favour to certain companies/firms, it is said.

The companies which were awarded the tenders have registered high trajectory growth. While awarding these tenders, officials of the respective Municipal Corporations had blatantly violated the Tamilnadu Transparency in Tenders Act, 1998, Rule 31 of the Tamilnadu Transparency in Tender Rules, 2012, guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission etc, it is alleged.

 

NT Bureau