Kerala Vigilance and Anti Corruption bureau has arrested VK Ebrahim Kunju, an Indian Union Of Muslim league (IUML) legislator from the Kalamassery constituency in connection with Palaruvattom flyover scam. Vigilance officials landed at the former Public Works Department Minister's residence in Ernakulam district on Wednesday morning but he was admitted to a private hospital. Following this, the officials reached the hospital and registered his arrest.
The MLA is the fifth accused in the case. Other four accused were earlier arrested and let out on bail. Ebrahim Kunju is the second IUML legislator to get arrested in November. Last week, Manjeshwar MLA MC Kamaruddin was arrested after more than 100 people filed cheating cases against him in a scam related to a jewelry scheme he ran.
The construction of Palarivattom flyover started in 2014 September when the UDF led by Congress was in power and Ebrahim Kunju was the PWD minister. The construction was done by the government without giving it to the National Highway authority. The construction was completed in 2016 and was inaugurated in October the same year. Later in July 2017, potholes started appearing on the bridge.
In November 2017, chief technical engineer with PWD inspected the bridge and it was found that there were major flaws in the construction. In March 2018 ,the National highway authority, and a private agency conducted a study and it was found that there were cracks in the bridge. They also did a second study in September same year. It was found that major cracks were there in the peer gaps. So they recommend stopping traffic in the bridge.
Rs 39 crores was spent to construct the flyover which is 750 meter long. Indian Institute of technology Madras also prepared a report that the bridge was in a pathetic condition.
In May 2019 the bridge was closed completely for renovation and in the same month a vigilance inquiry was ordered. The first four accused, project director Sumit Goyal, Managing director of RDS Projects, former Public Works Department Secretary T.O. Sooraj, Benny Paul who represented the Kerala Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation Limited (KITCO), and M.T. Thankachen from the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation were arrested and let on bail in November 2019.
In June 2019 the state government entrusted E Sreedharan of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to study on the bridge. An expert team under him submitted a report the next month. It advised structural changes were required for the flyover.
Later the state government decided to demolish the bridge and build a new one for a cost of Rs 18.5 crores. Though KITCO had approached the Supreme Court against the government decision, SC granted permission to reconstruct the bridge.