Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan has urged the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to drop the "move" to shift the marine aquarium and allied research institutions from Vizhinjam.

In a letter to Mr. Pawar, he said the aquarium had been functioning in a commendable manner since 1951. Last year, the centre had won the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for research in biotechnology.

The marine aquarium, started in 1997, was attracting tens of thousands of students as well as tourists.

An expert committee under the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) had visited the centre last year and suggested that the facilities there be developed. He alleged that the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute authorities were behind the move to shift the centre.

The potential for ornamental fish breeding, coral systems and pearl farming off Vizhinjam necessitated the continuance of the centre here, he added.