Special team to be constituted, Industries Department recommends Vigilance probeKPCC had also sought probe into row

The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) will investigate allegations relating to the permission granted by the previous Left Democratic Front (LDF) government for iron ore mining in the Chakkittapara, Kakkoor, and Mavoor villages of Kozhikode district.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy ordered the investigation accepting the recommendation in this regard from the Industries Department and after consultations with Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty and Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan. A special team would be constituted for the investigation, a press note issued by the Chief Minister’s office here on Saturday said.

The announcement of the Vigilance investigation came shortly after Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala, who was on a visit to the Chakkittapara mining site, demanded that an investigation be ordered into the row on Saturday itself. In what looked like an attempt not to give any credit to the KPCC chief for the Vigilance probe, the Chief Minister’s office clarified that Mr. Chandy had ordered the investigation on Friday itself.

The Industries Department’s recommendation for the investigation had reached the Chief Minister’s office on Thursday, when Mr. Chandy was away in Wayanad for his mass contact programme. He issued the order on Friday, on his return from Wayanad, the press note said.

The Union government, it said, had granted clearance for iron ore mining in the area on January 27, 2009, based on a letter from the State government. Based on another letter, dated April 23, 2010, it had given in-principle permission to Karnataka-based MSPL Limited for taking up mining in 406.4500 hectares in Chakkittapara for 30 years.

Based on the same letter, the Centre granted in-principle permission for mining in 53.9303 hectares in Mavoor village and 282.22503 hectares in Kakkoor village as well for 30 years.

The State government had asked the company to secure clearances under the Forest Conservation Act and Environmental Protection Act and approval for its mining plan from the Indian Bureau of Mining before taking up mining in the allocated areas. Although the in-principle permission was given in 2010, the company was unable to secure the required clearances within the deadline prescribed by the State government.

The company did not also secure clearance from the State Department of Forests and Wildlife. Following this, the State government had extended the deadline by two years through orders issued on January 19 and 22, 2011, the press note said.

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