Cong demands CBI inquiry into land to ISRO

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Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 18 (UNI) The Congress Kerala unit today reiterated its demand for a CBI inquiry into the sale of land to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for setting up its Space Institute here, in the wake of fresh controversies being kicked up over the consentious issue.

The issue hit the headlines again following reports that the space agency had asked for the Environmentally Fragile Land at Ponmudi to locate the space institute. Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and State Law Minister M Vijayakumar had denied the reports.

With the whole issue being mired in a controversy, only a CBI inquiry could bring out the truth, KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala told reporters here after the party's executive meeting.

Stressing that the State should not lose the prestigious institute, he said some vested interests were behind such controversies.

Meanwhile, Mr Achuthanandan, in a post-Cabinet Press briefing, said the space agency had not written to the Government, seeking land at Ponmudi. However, he said the ISRO officials had demanded some land at the Upper Sanatorium in Ponmudi.

Mr Vijayakumar had yesterday said though the space agency might have raised a demand during discussions, no formal request had been made. Forests Minister Binoy Viswom had also said that any area of Ponmudi Estate could not be spared as it was notified as Environmentally Fragile Land (EFL).

The issue had become a major controversy when it came to light that the 82 acres of land sold to the ISRO by a high profile businessman Xavi Mano Mathew to locate its space institute at Ponmudi here came under the EFL category. The Opposition had been alleging that the land was sold in connivance with Mr Viswom and had been demanding his resignation and a CBI probe into the issue.

UNI

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