Kerala government orders vigilance probe into LIFE Mission project

Questions have been raised over the commission received by a key accused in the gold smuggling case as part of the project from a UAE-based NGO.
Pinarayi Vijayan speaks
Pinarayi Vijayan speaks
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The Kerala government has ordered a vigilance probe into the contract of Red Crescent, an NGO based in the United Arab Emirates, with the LIFE Mission project. The NGO had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government for the construction of an apartment complex under the project, meant for building home for the poor in the state.

More than a month ago, the Opposition raised the question of a commission received by Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling case, from the Red Crescent for the house project.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had then told the media that Red Crescent was a charity organisation of the UAE and Swapna a former employee of the UAE Consulate, and if funds were misappropriated action would be taken. However, the government had no involvement in this, since its only role was to provide land for the project, he said.

Anil Akkara, Congress legislator from Wadakkancherry in Thrissur, had raised questions about the wrongdoings in the building project in his constituency.

Swapna who was arrested in July, days after 30kg of gold was seized at the Thiruvananthapuram airport, was found to have kept Rs one crore in her locker. She claimed it was the commission she received for the project. She is now in the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that is probing the case even as the Customs and the Enforcement Directorate are also involved in parallel enquiries.

Speaking to the media, Anil Akkara said it was he who had first raised this fraud and approached Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan seeking justice.

"Pinarayi Vijayan has been silent for long and despite repeated requests from the Congress side for a probe. I first approached the Governor. Then, I wrote to the Central Bureau of Investigation and today Pinarayi Vijayan has ordered a Vigilance probe because it's now come to light that the CBI is all set to probe this case. There is no point in the Vigilance probe, as it is headed by Pinarayi himself," said Anil Akkara.

Over 2.26 lakh houses were completed as part of the LIFE Mission, which began as a project in 2016, CM Pinarayi said last week. He was responding to media reports about alleged corruption in the project and said that some people including certain media houses were trying to 'sabotage the development activities of the government'.

Watch: Vigilance probe into LIFE Mission project

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