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Iron ore mining: probe mooted

Special Correspondent
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The Payyanikotta at Chakkittapara in Kozhikode.– File photo
The Payyanikotta at Chakkittapara in Kozhikode.– File photo

The Industries Department has recommended a Vigilance inquiry into the allegations about the sanction given to a company based in Bellary for iron ore mining at Chakkittapara in Kozhikode.

The move for a vigilance inquiry gathered momentum when KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala sent a missive to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy minutes before the weekly Cabinet session on Wednesday demanding a probe into the allegations implicating former Industries Minister and CITU State secretary Elamaram Karim in the sanction without delay.

The Chief Minister, when contacted, told The Hindu that his office had received the relevant file from the Industries Department recommending Vigilance inquiry.

He was on his way to hold the Wayanad leg of his mass contact programme on Thursday. The order would be issued soon after he returned on Friday. “There will not be any delay in issuing the order for the Vigilance probe,” he said.

Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty, who spoke to a few media channels, said the department recommended a comprehensive inquiry into the sanction given for iron ore mining not only at Chakkittapara but also at Kakkoor and Mavoor. He said his department had taken a clinical approach in the matter and it was now for the Vigilance Department to take action on the basis of its recommendations.

In reply to a question, Mr. Kunhalikutty said all allegations, including the irregularities in procedures, out of way assistance, and whether the claims of public sector undertakings had been overlooked, would come under the purview of the investigation. It was for the Chief Minister and the Home Minister, who holds the charge of Vigilance, to decide on the terms of reference for the probe.

Mr. Kunhalikutty said the UDF government had taken a very strong position against iron ore mining since it would have seriously affected the environment. Such a project was not feasible in an ecologically fragile area. This had prompted the government to cancel all sanctions given for iron ore mining.

He said he had sent back the relevant file on the ground that it did not have the clearance of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The validity period of the permit was extended only when the project got provisional environmental clearance. This was done in order to prevent the controversial company from approaching the court.

The former Industries Minister had seen the relevant files related to the mining issue. The files that came to him had been seen by all the relevant departments, he said.

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