Oppn stalls proceedings in Kerala Assembly

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Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 19: The Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) stalled the proceedings in the Kerala Assembly, even as the indefinite fast by five MLAs, demanding a comprehensive inquiry into the ISRO land deals at Ponmudi, entered the third day.

The Opposition members, shouting slogans, rushed to the well of the House, when Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan rejected their demand, saying that since the ISRO was involved, they could approach the Centre for an inquiry.

However, Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy alleged that the State Forest and Revenue departments had given documents to the Centre to create an impression that the sale of Ecologically Fragile Land (EFL) by a private party to the ISRO was ''legal''.

In this circumstance, the state government should order an inquiry and Forests Minister Binoy Viswom should step down to facilitate proper investigation.

Mr Chandy said the UDF was not against the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, the third such institution in the world, coming up in Kerala. ''We have offered all our support to the venture. But at the same time, the irregularities in the land deal should also be investigated,'' he added.

However, the Chief Minister reiterated that it was the 2003 Amendment Act brought in by the previous UDF government, which enabled Merchiston estate owner Xavier Mano Mathew to get possession of the EFL at Ponmudi, which he later sold to ISRO. ''As the facts are very clear, there is no need for any inquiry into the matter,'' he added.

Later, amid noisy scenes, the House passed the Kerala Police (Amendment) Bill, 2007, and The Kerala Ayurveda Health Centres (Issue of Licence and Control) Bill, 2007. The Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Bill, 2007, was referred to the subject committee without any discussion.

Mr Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan (Cong), Mr Joseph M Puthussery (KC-M), Mr U C Raman (IUML), Mr K B Ganesh Kumar (KC-B) and Mr K K Shaju (JSS) were the members observing fast on the foyer of the House.


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