The government has cancelled an order issued by the Department of Environment and Climate Change granting clearance for an apartment complex built by DLF at Chelavannoor in Kochi, even as the Opposition staged a walkout from the Assembly on Wednesday accusing the UDF regime of abetting corruption by the real estate group to bypass CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) norms.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Environment Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan told the House that the Chief Secretary had been directed to investigate the matter and submit a report within five days.
The LDF leaders alleged that the government had shown undue haste in clearing the project promoted by Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Giving notice for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue, CPI(M) MLA P. Sreeramakrishnan said Environment Secretary P.K. Mohanty had issued an order quashing the decision of the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) to stop the controversial project and set up an expert committee to look into allegations about encroachment of the Chelavannoor lake.
He said the directive to withdraw the stop memo was communicated to the Kochi Corporation within 24 hours, exposing the undue haste by the government in regularising the project.
Mr. Chandy said the construction of the apartment complex had taken off during the tenure of the LDF government after the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) cleared the project in 2008. The issue had come up before the KCZMA following allegations of CRZ violation, he pointed out. Mr. Radhakrishnan said the government would not allow the real estate lobby to appropriate wetlands and backwaters.
Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan alleged that the decision to clear the project was taken by the SEIAA, including Mr. Mohanty, after the resignation of its chairman A.E. Muthunayagam. He dared the government to demolish the apartment complex and restore the wetland.
The Opposition trooped out of the House after the Speaker refused leave to discuss the issue.