Mohamed Nazeer

Licence given to cooperative society controlled by CPI(M)

INTUC society alleges political discrimination

‘KTLWCS application under consideration’

KANNUR: The decision of the Port Department to issue sand-mining licence in the basin of the Azhikkal Port solely to a Communist Party of India (Marxist)-controlled cooperative society has triggered protest from an INTUC-controlled society that had also applied for licence.

Sand-mining workers affiliated to the Kannur Taluk Labourers’ Welfare Cooperative Society (KTLWCS) controlled by the INTUC have opposed the decision to issue the licence to the Kannur District Building Materials Cooperative Society (KDBMCS) owing allegiance to the CPI(M), in violation of what the former described as an assurance given by the authorities concerned that both the societies would be issued permits.

Arrested

The Port Department’s decision on Wednesday sparked protests by the INTUC workers who said the KTLWCS was denied permission for sand-mining in the Valapattanam river at Azhikkal for political reasons. The police on Thursday arrested and removed 100-odd protesters.

KTLWCS chairman and INTUC State general secretary K. Surendran said the agitation against the Port Department’s decision would continue till the decision was revoked.

He alleged that denial of permit to his society registered in 2003 and issue of pass to the KDBMCS registered in 2006 was a clear discrimination motivated by political consideration.

Workers of the KTLWCS would not allow sand-mining by the KDBMCS in the port basin, he added.

Kozhikode Regional Port Officer Capt. Hari Achutha Warrier told The Hindu on Friday that the Port Department’s decision to issue the manual dredging licence to the KDBMCS was to maintain status quo as per the decision of the State government.

Decision in January

The application of the KTLWCS for licence was now under the consideration of the government and a decision was expected in the first week of January.

He said the Port Department maintained the status quo with the help of the police on Thursday pending the government’s decision on the KTLWCS application.

The permission for manual dredging of the basin by local sand-miners was issued during the tenure of the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government after it was found that the mechanical dredging done in 2003 had failed to serve the purpose of deepening the port basin.

124 licences

The government then had issued 124 licences in two phases to accelerate sand-mining that would allow the Port Department to earn additional revenue and provide a livelihood to local workers.

After the present LDF government came to power, the licences were revoked.

When this led to a shortage of sand for construction purposes, the authorities issued licence solely to the CPI(M)-controlled society which was formed then.

Licence renewal

The authorities had also refused to renew the licences of those who had been already engaged in sand-mining in the basin.

The licensees concerned had approached the High Court to get their licences restored and the High Court had directed that the licenses be restored within 30 days if the Port Department revived manual dredging.

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