ISRO moves Kerala High Court on IISST land deal

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Kochi, Sep 25 (UNI) The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) today moved the Kerala High Court, contending that the land purchased by it in Merchiston Estate in Thiruvananthapuram to set up the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IISST) did not fall under the ecologically fragile land (EFL) category.

Filing an application seeking to implead itself in the case, IISST Director Dr B N Suresh submitted that the 81.50 acres purchased by the ISRO from Southern Field Ventures Ltd on July 20, 2007, for setting up the IISST campus fell outside the 24.40 hectares of land directed to be maintained as EFL by the custodian of lands appointed under the Kerala Forest (Vesting and Management of Ecologically Fragile Lands) Act, 2003.

Opposing the public interest litigation filed by the NGO 'Friends of Environment', seeking to declare the land purchased by ISRO as EFL, he said this would adversely affect the Institute as the sale deed would be rendered non est (non existing) and a substantial loss of Rs 3.26 crore plus registration and development charges amounting to about Rs one crore would be cost to the exchequer.

Dr Suresh said the IISST had been created by the Department of Space, Government of India, to establish a world-class educational institute of excellence with the unique aim of integrating education with high technology research. For that purpose, it was felt that the Institute must be set up in a green, eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable campus.

He contended that ISRO purchased the land from a private party only after the Kerala Government informed the Institute through the District Collector, Thiruvananthapuram, as per letters dated February five and 12 last, its inability to provide suitable land in Thiruvananthapuram for setting up the Institute.

The application would come up for hearing tomorrow along with the main petition.


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