On Tuesday, former ADMK Minister SP Velumani's citadel has come close to collapse after remaining potent during his tenure as the minister, during which he emerged as a power-centric both in the party and in the regime. Shocking revelations have now been exhumed from his circle as Tamil Nadu's Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) has been conducting raids at 52 places including Velumani's residence.
SP Velumani had served as the Minister for Municipal Administration during the previous ADMK regime and he is one of the bigheads of ADMK, close to former Chief Minister and current Opposition leader Edappadi Palaniswami. The raids at his properties have come weeks after a similar scale of searches conducted by DVAC at the residence of former ADMK Minister MR Vijayabaskar. According to reports, the DVAC has been conducting raids at 52 different locations including Velumani's residence on Tuesday.
The raids had taken place in Chennai and Velumani's hometown of Kuniyamuthur in the Coimbatore district. The searches had begun at around 7.05 am on Tuesday and the raids were related to the corruption allegations against the former minister. After learning that Velumani's residence was raided by the authorities, hundreds of ADMK supporters including MLAs had gathered there. The raids had come three weeks after the Tamil Nadu government informed the Madras High Court that it would reopen the investigation into corruption allegations against SP Velumani.
The DVAC authorities are conducting searches at 15 places in Chennai including Velumani's residence in MRC Nagar, 35 places in Coimbatore, one place each in Dindigul and Kancheepuram. The residences of some of the corporation officials had also come under the scanner. Amid conducting the raids, the DVAC had filed an FIR against Velumani and 17 others in connection to the irregularities and graft case. The searches are being conducted at the residences of Velumani's close associates and contractors who had taken projects worth several crores of rupees in Chennai and Coimbatore Corporations.
The FIR had named Velumani as Accused No 1 and it has shockingly revealed Velumani's empire. According to the FIR, the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Coimbatore Corporation had allotted tenders worth Rs 811 crore to companies closely associated with Velumani, when he was the minister of the Municipal Administration, from 2014 to 2018. The list of accused includes P Anbarasan, who is Velumani's brother and a partner in P Senthil and Co, the company started by Velumani's family in 1999. However, Velumani had resigned from the company in the same year.
The FIR further says that the tenders worth Rs 464.02 crore of the Greater Chennai Corporation were given to the companies run by the close associates of Velumani while these companies won the tenders worth Rs 346.81 crore in the Coimbatore Corporation. The DVAC had highlighted that while accepting these tenders, the tender authorities had deliberately defied the Tamil Nadu Transparency Act, TN Transparency in Tender Rules, Guidelines of Central Vigilance Commission, and engineering manual of Tamil Nadu.
The DVAC had noted that these violations have happened under the direct watch and influence of SP Velumani. Such violations were found across all corridors from tender bidding, negotiation, to execution of work. The FIR says that there was an overwhelming collision of companies in winning the tenders and these companies had submitted online bids using the same Standard Internet Protocol on the same date, which has revealed that these bids were submitted from the same computer. The FIR further said that these companies had quoted abnormally low prices for some components in the tenders.
The DVAC has said that there were vivid links between SP Velumani's family and KCP Engineers, which won several tenders of Chennai and Coimbatore Corporations. The authorities are also raiding the office of KCP Engineers in Chennai to delve into irregularities. It was found that a close associate of Velumani was tasked to be at the minister's official residence in RA Puram and decide which tender would go to which company under the direction of Velumani. The DVAC had found that the companies close to Velumani had attained growth at a skyrocketing pace while he was serving as the minister in the ADMK government.
A gold and diamond jewellery showroom close to Velumani had recorded a revenue of Rs 100 crore within one year of its establishment. The revenue of KCP Engineers was at Rs 42 crore in 2012 and the same stood at Rs 453 crore in 2018 and the growth of CR Constructions, which was at Rs 38 lakh in 2012, had grown to Rs 43.56 crore in 2018. With these shocking revelations, the DVAC had named Velumani as Accused No 1 in the case and questioned him at the MLA's Hostel in Chennai in connection to the case.
On the other hand, ADMK cadres and supporters had staged protests against the raids on SP Velumani in Coimbatore and Chennai. They ransacked the barricades and squabbled with the police officers to display their allegiance to the former minister. It must be noted that on Monday, contractor Thiruvengadam from Coimbatore had filed a complaint against SP Velumani to the Chennai Police Commissioner in which he alleged that the former minister had cheated Rs 1.20 crore by promising that he will get government contracts to him.