Maritime wing: Action sought against Jacob Thomas

The state exchequer suffered additional expenditure of Rs 6.62 crore on account of additional piling caused by the over-excavation.

Thiruvananthapuram: Vigilance director Jacob Thomas is in the dock again over the construction of the Maritime Institute at Neendakara while he was ports director from 2009 to 2013.

A Finance Inspection Wing report filed by additional chief secretary (finance) K.M. Abraham has recommended removal of Mr Thomas from his present post over the irregularities in the construction of the institute and mooted a CBI probe into an instance of collusion in a related matter.

Earlier, Chief Secretary S.M. Vijayanand had recommended a high-level inquiry against Mr Jacob Thomas for the irregularities in the purchase of a dredger while Mr Thomas was serving as ports director and also suggested that he may be kept off the Vigilance chief post. The chief minister had sought the opinion of the director-general of prosecution on the matter.

The FIW report signed by Mr Abraham in December last recommended disciplinary action and imposition of penalty against him for the loss of Rs 7.86 crore caused to the government in the construction of the institute which was commissioned last year. “Without obtaining technical sanction from any competent authority, the then ports director (Mr Jacob Thomas) hastily tendered the work for Rs 25 crore....He proceeded with the tender finalisation based on the exorbitant estimate and awarded the construction irregularly to M/s South Indian construction for '36.6 crore. There is a loss of Rs 7.86 crore to the exchequer," said the report, the contents of which are available now.

It suggested a CBI or Vigilance probe into the suspected collusion between the officials of the ports department and central public sector undertaking IREL regarding over-extraction of mineral sand from the port land on behalf of KMML. Though it was found that there was over-excavation, the details like mining plan and value of minerals were not available. While marine mechanical engineer A. Retnakumar was held primarily responsible for the irregularity, the FIW report also said that the then director of ports cannot evade his responsibility in preventing over-extraction, said the report.

The state exchequer suffered additional expenditure of Rs 6.62 crore on account of additional piling caused by the over-excavation.

"The governance failure of the director of ports in tendering the maritime institute at Neendakara has inflicted huge loss to the public exchequer. The irony is that Jacob Thomas held the post of Vigilance director and the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau headed by him has to conduct a Vigilance inquiry against his misdoings since the quantum of money lost to the government runs into several crores. This warrants removal of him from the post for a fair probe," said the report.

In another FIW report, Mr Thomas was held responsible for the purchase of laptop computers worth Rs 54 lakh without government permission. However, he was cleared of the alleged irregularities in the installation of solar panels at port offices, purchase of steel furniture and construction of the port department headquarters.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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