Govt's contract only with Keltron; no loss for treasury; allegations ridiculous: MV Govindan

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Thiruvananthapuram: CPM state secretary MV Govindan on Sunday rubbished the allegations levelled against the Kerala government and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the project to install artificial intelligence-enabled surveillance cameras in the state.

The project does not cause financial loss for the state government. The government is solely associated with Keltron and no other companies. Congress leaders are making up charges to stop the media from reporting the achievements of the government's 100-day action plan, Govindan said. The Pinarayi government is set to implement projects worth Rs 15,600 crore on its second anniversary, which has garnered praise from the public, he added. He also stated that the CM did not need to answer questions as the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau investigation is underway. Besided, ministers have already addressed them, he said.

Govindan expressed his views in a press conference. He said that the opposition leader VD Satheesan and former opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala should first reach a consensus about the allegations as they have been making different allegations. Satheesan said the corruption was worth Rs 100 crore while Chennithala claimed it was worth Rs 132 crore, Govindan pointed out.

Govindan said the Kerala government has not spent any funds from its treasury on the AI camera project. Keltron covers all expenses. The government has no involvement with Prasadio. Given that there will be many subcontracts involved, Keltron bears responsibility for their validity. The government has only a partnership with Keltron, and allegations from companies that did not secure the contract are baseless, he added.

The Kerala government has entered into a partnership with Keltron to implement the AI camera system. As part of this initiative, a new post has been created within the Department of Motor Vehicles. The project was planned and designed by Keltron, and it was awarded on a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) basis for five years, with administrative approval given according to a Cabinet decision. Keltron invited tenders, and four companies participated. SRITL was awarded the contract for Rs 165 crore. The tender agreement also includes sub-contract provisions. Administrative approval of Rs 232.25 crore has been granted for the project. The CAPEX of the project is Rs 142 crore, and operational maintenance is required for five years, which amounts to Rs 56.24 crore. GST is Rs 35.76 crore. The project is fully owned by the Department of Motor Vehicles, and it was prepared using indigenous technology, according to Govindan.

The current system does not record or store video, the former minister said. Keltron will receive the payment in 20 instalments over five years.

The system currently comprises 726 cameras and is expected to function flawlessly under Keltron's responsibility for five years. On the first day of installation, 4.5 lakh violations were reported. However, as people became more aware, the number of violations reduced to one and a half lakh.

The current dispute between Chennithala and Satheesan is an attempt to unnecessarily involve Keltron in controversy. The CPM wants the state to discuss and resolve issues related to children's transportation (on two-wheelers) with the union government. That is the only concern of the party in the project, according to Govindan.

Keltron is a world-class organisation. Since the launch of the scheme in 2018, no complaints have been received. No corruption has been identified within the Left government so far. However, a vigilance inquiry and a departmental inquiry were ordered in January this year after some officials were accused of wrongdoing. The government and the party stand for eradicating corruption, Govindan said.

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