Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], February 24 (ANI): As the contract entered by the Kerala government with a US firm for deep-sea fishing and allied activities landed in a controversy, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan revealed that the Centre had informed Kerala Government that "the firm was registered in the US but such agency doesn't exist in the commercial sector, which they claim to be."
The revelation comes a day after the Kerala Government cancelled the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between State-owned Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) with the US-based EMCC International for a deep-sea fishing project of Rs 2,950 crore that includes building trawlers, development of harbour and port development activities.
"For the state government to enter into MoU with a foreign entity, it needs to take the approval of the Government of India. Kerala govt had written to MEA Joint Secretary on 3 Oct 19 to find out about the agency with which they were planning to enter into the agreement. The Joint Secretary wrote to the Counsel General of India in New York and a copy of that was marked to the Kerala Government as sort of a reply. Counsel General replied on 21st Oct that they've been trying to find out about this agency but haven't been able to get in touch with them," Muraleedharan told ANI detailing the turn of events.
He said that the communication sent to the Kerala government also indicated that the address is not of a building where such a firm exists.
"It's only a place which people hire for temporary requirements. The firm was registered in the US but such an agency doesn't exist in the commercial sector which they claim to be. This is what was informed," he said.
Further, Muraleedharan said that in spite of getting to know the facts, after four months Kerala Government signed the MoU which point to "ulterior motives".
"It's unbelievable that senior officers of the Government of Kerala didn't bring it to the notice of minister. It means that the Kerala government pretended that they're going on a real MoU despite the fact that they had received a communication that this is not an agency with which they can do business. So I doubt if there is some ulterior motive involved," he added.
The reaction of the Minister comes after the leader of opposition of Kerala assembly Ramesh Chennithala who alleged corruption charges in the deal distributed to media persons a letter by state principal secretary KR Jyothilal addressed to the joint secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, to verify the credentials of the EMCC International, the US-based firm.
In the official letter sent to the Ministry of External Affairs it is mentioned that the company was interested in innovative technology development for deep sea fishing in Kerala and that the US firm has submitted a concept note to the Kerala government. (ANI)