The ruling LDF in Kerala on Tuesday slammed the Congress-led opposition UDF for questioning in the Assembly as to why Keltron, which allegedly makes no components, was given the contract for installing artificial intelligence (AI) cameras in the state.
State Transport Minister Antony Raju and Industries Minister P Rajeev said it was a highly unfair and irresponsible statement by senior Congress MLA Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan that public sector undertaking (PSU) Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd (Keltron) makes no components.
The Ministers contended that it was Radhakrishnan himself, when he was Home Minister in the previous UDF government, who used the PSU’s services to set up cameras across Kerala at a much higher cost than the AI cameras project.
They also sought to remind that components made by Keltron were used in Chandrayaan-3 and Adithya L1 missions of ISRO.
”So kindly do not say that Keltron is just a mute spectator. You should be ready to withdraw your statement. Keltron is a source of pride for the state and the country,” they said.
Raju also denied the allegations by the Opposition in the House that the project was to be implemented on BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) model as per the tender document, but was converted, subsequently, to an annuity mode.
He said the project document clearly states that it was not a simple BOOT model as the payment was to be made as per annuity mode.
The minister also said that the AI cameras have helped to bring down accidents and the resultant injuries and deaths as well as traffic violations in the state.
Officials from other states, like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, have come here to study the project in order to implement it there, he contended.
Raju also said while Keltron set up the infrastructure and employed the staff to operate the cameras and also carries out the operations, the ownership of the cameras is with the Motor Vehicles Department.
The Congress has been raising corruption charges against the ”Safe Kerala” project, which included installation of the AI cameras, envisaged to reduce road accidents and traffic violations in the State, since it’s inauguration in April.
The party also moved the Kerala High Court against the project.
The High Court, while seeking the stand of the state, Keltron and the private companies involved in the project, had said it was convinced that the PIL ”needs to be examined from the perspective of change in the dynamics of implementation of the project, whether the change is objective, bona fide or vitiated by any of the collateral reasons now stated in the petition”.
The court also directed the state government not to make any financial payments as part of the project without seeking further clarification from it or till further orders.