Chennai: Two former Ministers of Tamil Nadu – S P Velumani and C Vijayabaskar – belonging to the AIADMK faced fresh searches from the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) in connection with two corruption cases on Tuesday.
This is the third time the DVAC sleuths landed at Velumani’s doorsteps in the last year, while Vijayabaskar was facing searches for the second time. Both held powerful portfolios in the erstwhile Jayalalithaa and Edappadi K Palaniswami-headed cabinets. While Velumani was Minister for Municipal Administration and Water Supplies, Vijayabaskar was the former Health Minister. Incidentally, while in office, Vijayabaskar encountered Income Tax raids at his home.
The AIADMK interim general secretary alleged that the searches were conducted to divert the attention of the people from the sharp increase in electricity tariffs that came into effect in the State from September 10. He said this was an attempt to weaken the AIADMK’s proposed statewide protest on Friday against the tariff hike.
However, the DVAC said it had registered a case against Velumani and his associates on charges of awarding tenders to favoured companies for replacing street lights with LED lights in rural Tamil Nadu during 2015-18. The agency charged this led to a loss of Rs 500 crore to the exchequer.
In the searches conducted at multiple locations including Coimbatore and Chennai, the agency said it had identified an amount of Rs.32.98 lakh, 1,228 grams of gold jewels, 948 grams of silver articles and 10 four-wheelers from Velumani’s premises. Besides, 316 incriminating documents and two locker keys were seized.
As for the former Health Minister, the DVAC said he had “fraudulently” issued an Essentiality Certificate for the Vels Medical College and Hospital near Chennai. In searches conducted at 13 places in Pudukottai, Chennai and elsewhere, the agency identified Rs.18.37 lakh, 1,872 grams of gold jewels, and 8.28 kgs of silver articles linked to Vijaybaskar. Besides, 120 incriminating documents, storage devices, mobile phones were seized, the agency said.