Raid on office of Twenty20-ruled Kizhakkambalam grama panchayat

By Express News Service

KOCHI: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) carried out raids on the office of Kizhakkambalam grama panchayat, which is ruled by the  Kitex-backed apolitical organisation Twenty20, on Monday. The search by VACB Ernakulam unit, which commenced around 11.30 am and concluded around 6.15 pm, was based on a complaint that irregularities had taken place in the construction of roads and buildings in the panchayat, according to officials. 

Khalid Mundapilly, a social activist, had lodged a complaint with the Director of VACB against Sabu M Jacob, coordinator of Twenty20 and MD of Kitex Group, the panchayat secretary, president, members and other officials.

Besides this, the complainant also alleged that in addition to the government’s honorarium for panchayat members the monthly stipend provided by Twenty20 to the members is an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act. It also sought an investigation into the activities of administrative committee members and officials during the tenure of 2015-2020 too.

The bleaching and dyeing unit set up at the Kitex company at Kizhakkambalam during 2010-2015 has not received a valid licence so far. There are three such units operating in the company. Though an RTI query was filed in this regard there was no adequate reply from the grama panchayat. The complainant also urged that these plants should be inspected and action initiated against the dumping of waste including toxic substances. The company does not have a waste treatment facility, the complaint stated.

The VACB team examined files and documents with engineering and administration wings as well. Kizhakkambalam grama panchayat president Mini Ratheesh said the Twenty20 has not done anything flouting the laws. Hence there was nothing to conceal.

“We welcome any kind of inquiry. However, the VACB did not serve a prior notice and did not inform us about the purpose of the raid. We cooperated with them. Since the secretary was on leave, the assistant secretary produced all files demanded by the officials,” she said. 

Twenty20 scripted a new chapter in the history of Kerala local body polls by winning three more grama panchayats and retaining the existing Kizhakkambalam panchayat in Ernakulam district in 2020.

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