Chandy asks CM to clarify Chief Secretary's 'lapse'

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Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 13 (UNI) Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly Oommen Chandy today asked Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan to clarify what lapse had come from Chief Secretary Lizzie Jacob in taking steps to construct a helipad at Merchiston Estate in connection with the Prime Minister's visit to the state.

Talking to mediapersons at the Assembly complex, he alleged that the Chief Minister and the government were trying to escape from the lapses on controversial land deal by putting the blame on government officials.

Mr Chandy said the Chief Minister himself had justified the Chief Secretary last week on the issue and later in the Assembly the Finance Minister said that his department had sanctioned Rs one crore for the purpose.

However, the Chief Minister, in a post-Cabinet meeting yesterday, had stated that Chief Secretary ''erred'' in not informing him about the construction of the helipad at Merchiston Estate for the Prime Minister's visit.

He said the Opposition would continue its ongoing agitation until the government ordered a probe into the ISRO land deal keeping away Forest Minister Binoy Viswam from his post.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Lizzie Jacob today applied for three months leave, following her reported differences with Chief Minister Mr Achuthanandan over the ISRO land deal issue.

The Chief Secretary had sanctioned Rs one crore for the work. But a controversy arose later with the Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front alleging that Mr Binoy Viswom helped a private party to sell vested Ecologically Fragile Land at Ponmudi to the Indian Space Research Organisation to set up a space institute.

Subsequently, the government promised to provide 200 acres of alternate land to the ISRO free of cost to set up the institute.

ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair will inaugurate the space institute at a function to be organised at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre here tomorrow.

UNI

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