Kerala Govt accuses official of keeping it in dark

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Kochi, Oct 22 (UNI) The Kerala Government today informed the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that suspended Chief Conservator of Forests V Gopinathan had failed to inform the Government in time about the land dealings regarding the Merchiston Estate in Ponmudi, Thiruvananthapuram.

In a statement filed in response to the official's petition before the CAT, challenging the suspension order issued to him on September 18 last, the Government said that in exercise of the powers conferred under the Kerala Forests (Vesting and Management of Ecologicaly Fragile Lands) Act, 2003, the Government had appointed Mr Gopinathan as the 'custodian' of ecologically fragile lands (EFL).

The land deal relating to the Merchiston Estate, which was categorised as EFL, and related matters were not brought to the notice of the Government by him, it said.

Under the Act, he was duty bound to apprise the Government from time to time of all such information, it added.

The land deal came to light when the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) bought a part of the estate to set up the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology. The Government later issued an eviction notice to ISRO, stating that the Merchiston Estate was EFL, which was illegally declassified from the category.


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