Special Correspondent

Discussions with ISRO, Government today

Rs. 1.75 crore for repair of dikes in Kuttanad

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Cabinet on Wednesday decided to order a judicial inquiry into land deals of the former Minister T.U. Kuruvilla and his family members at Rajakumari village of Idukki district.

Briefing the media on the Cabinet decisions, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said the services of a sitting judge from the High Court would be sought for the inquiry. (Mr. Kuruvila resigned as Public Works Minister on Tuesday in view of the allegations against him.)

The Chief Minister also announced that the Government was ordering an inquiry into the deals entered into by the previous Government prior to the last Assembly elections for the purchase of smart cards and optical cards. The deals would be cancelled.

Mr. Achuthanandan said that Rs. 1.75 crore would be sanctioned for repair of dikes in Kuttanad, which had been damaged in heavy rain and floods.

Replying to questions on the controversial land deal for the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology by a private party, the Chief Minister said that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had not approached the Government in a proper manner for acquisition of land for the institute. There were some hasty moves behind the deal. The issues would be resolved during discussions between ISRO authorities and the Government here on Thursday.

Privilege motion

Referring to a privilege motion against him given notice of by the Opposition in the Assembly for allegedly misleading the House on the request from ISRO, the Chief Minister said that the Revenue Department had received a letter from ISRO.

In technical terms

This was sent to the Thiruvanananthapuram Collector through the Principal Secretary and the Collector had replied that no land was available. So, technically, the Government had been approached.

However, the Government had made land available to Central organisations such as the Airports Authority of India when they wanted land in the State.

The Chief Minister should have been approached for that. It was absurd to claim that he had received a communication from ISRO in that regard.

He remarked that the land deal entered into by a private party with the ISRO was aimed at division and sale of the tea estate after giving a portion to the ISRO.

Reward for Pradeep

The Chief Minister said that the Cabinet had decided to grant ten cents of land and Rs. 3 lakhs to N. V. Pradeep, who ensured the victory of India in the Nehru Cup Tournament by scoring a goal.

The land would be provided at his native place near Moolamattom in Idukki district. His teammate Ajayan would be given Rs. 1 lakh.

Promotions

Mr. Achuthanandan said that the Principal Secretaries K. K. Vijayakumar, K. Jose Cyriac, and Ajoy Chaudhari would be promoted to the grade of Chief Secretary. A. Shajahan would be posted as Collector of Kollam.

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