Cong says LDF stand on ISRO deal encourages corruption

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Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 21 (UNI) The Congress in Kerala, reiterating its demand for the resignation of State Forest Minister Binoy Vishwam and an inquiry into the controversial ISRO land deal, today said the ruling Left Democratic Front's (LDF) decision not to probe the deal only encouraged corruption and helped land mafia thrive in the state.

''Kerala never witnessed such corruption like the ISRO land deal. In a democratic set up, no government or ruling Front would take a decision like that taken by the LDF,'' Pradesh Congress President Ramesh Chennithala told newspersons here.

''This would only encourage corruption and help land mafia thrive in the state,'' he said.

Mr Chennithala, accusing the CPI and the CPI(M), said if the parties had any responsibility towards the people, they would have initiated a probe to bring out the truth.

''The Congress had asked them to probe the deals from 2000 onwards when the United Democratic Front was in power, but they were not ready for it. Who are they fearing?'' he asked.

''Whenever allegations have come up against UDF leaders, the LDF has asked for some kind of probe. But when their own men are involved, they do not want any inquiry,'' he said.

Lashing at the government, he said the LDF, which came to power after the UDF, could have brought in an Ordinance to overcome the 2003 Forest (Vesting and Management of Ecologically Fragile Lands) Act. Instead of doing so, the LDF framed rules which enabled Merchiston Estate Owner Xavie Mano Mathew to get possession of the Ecologically Fragile Land (EFL) at Ponmudi.

The LDF brought in a new Ordinance against the Self Financing Professional College Bill introduced by the A K Antony Government and framed rules for the 2003 Act brought in by the UDF Government.

''If they found the Act having defects, why were the rules framed?'' he sought to know.

Alleging that Mr Vishwam was involved in the deal, Mr Chennithala said according to rules, two advisory committees had to be formed -- one to deal with vesting the forest land and another to de-notify the land to eligible individuals.

Mr Vishwam had only constituted the second committee which was responsible for de-notifying land.

''The Minister should have first formed the committee which looked into taking back government land. The deal was completed in four months even as hundreds of de-notifying cases were pending with the custodian. The speed with which the deal was struck only proved that the minister had some interest in this,'' he alleged.

Mr Chennithala said the Congress would continue with its agitation till demands were agreed upon.

UNI

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