E-bus: Hess representatives attended meeting held by chief secretary
Thiruvananthapuram: Even when the state government claims that they have not given e-bus contract to the Swiss company Hess, evidence proving they have attended a meeting held by the chief secretary has come to light. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the company PricewaterhouseCoopers was appointed as consultant for preparing the project report after singing the contract.
The chief secretary convened a meeting on February 17 to discuss electric bus manufacturing. It is shown in the documents that a person named Alex participated from Hess company. The transport secretary said in this meeting that the government cooperated with Hess from the initial phase of e-bus manufacturing project.
It was decided in the meeting that PricewaterhouseCoopers should submit the Detailed Project Report (DPR) by the end of March and that Kerala Hindustan Automobiles Limited and Hess should sign the contract by the end of April. The finance department, minister Thomas Isaac and chief secretary had opposed the decision to move forward with the contract without a DPR and without specifying the source of fund for the project.
In order to overcome this, the chief minister directly held a meeting and entrusted PricewaterhouseCoopers to prepare the DPR. The chief secretary held the meeting after this. The representatives of Hess attended the meeting based on the secret agreement made with them, the opposition alleged.
The government had decided to manufacture 3000 electric buses. According to Hess, one bus costs about Rs 2 crore. The transport department had assured the company that the buses will be purchased by KSRTC.
It also directed that the government should provide Rs 540 crore a year to KSRTC to manage the loss caused by plying e-buses. The agreement with the Swiss company was made accepting all these conditions.