CPI State unit assistant secretary K. Prakash Babu has demanded a CBI inquiry into the alleged role of Union Minister of State for Labour Kodikunnil Suresh in the scam involving Mine Workers’ Welfare Department (South Zone) director M. Narassaiah.

Mr. Babu said in a statement here on Saturday that Mr. Narassaiah, who collected substantial sums from the quarry owners in the State had said that a portion of the funds would be given to higher-ups too.He had held secret consultations with Mr. Suresh some days back. Instead of probing the complaints of the workers and the public against the quarry owners, the Union Labour Ministry officials had cheated the public by accepting bribe, he said.

A CBI inquiry was necessary, he said.

Held in Kochi

Our Staff Reporter writes from Kochi: Mr. Narassaiah was arrested by the CBI from a hotel in Kochi, while accepting bribe from quarry owners in the district.

Responding to a query on whether he had met the official, Mr. Suresh told the media here that the official belonged to his ministry and he met him as part of his official capacity. The meeting was in connection with the briefing about a meeting on labour officials held at Thiruvananthapuram, he said.

The CBI had been tracking the official for sometime now. Sources said that he used to collect bribes from quarry owners to let them bypass the safety mechanism supposed to be in place at quarries. Majority of the quarries in the State violate the conditions laid out in Mines Act and other related legislations. This included bench cutting of the quarries, where the mining is done in terraces so as to prevent it from caving in and posing a threat to the miners.

It was alleged that the official met Mr. Suresh at the latter’s residence at Chengannur on April 7. Mr. Narassaiah had started from Thiruvananthapuram on April 4. Nearly Rs. 4 lakh and some gold coins were recovered from him when he was arrested.