Kerala

Forest department disallows Kannur CPM controlled PSU from removing sand from Pampa

The dispute reportedly prompted a closed-door meeting between Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Forest Minister K. Raju.

The State Forest department has revoked a controversial order issued by the District Collector, Pathanamthitta, permitting Kerala Clays and Ceramic Products, a Kannur-based public sector entity headed by a functionary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), to transport costly river sand from Triveni at Pampa.

Additional Chief Secretary, Forests, Dr. Asha Thomas, issued the order on Tuesday soon after Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala had accused the government of having used flood preparedness as a cover to by-pass the Forest Conservation Act to accord financial advantage to a public sector entity under the control of the ruling party.

The dispute reportedly prompted a closed-door meeting between Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Forest Minister K. Raju at the Government Secretariat here.

Mr. Raju told journalists later that the Forest department could not allow any removal of sand from within the protected forests without the approval of the Central government.

Later, an official clarified that the disaster management authority might want the firm to remove accumulated sand or silt from Pampa as part of the State's monsoon preparedness.

If so, it was binding on the district administration to ensure that the sand miners deposited the sediment in the sites specified by the forest department. No person or entity could ferry the sand out of the forest area for any purpose without the concurrent consent of the Central government and the forest department.

However, the firm could engage contractors to remove the sand, silt and debris deposited in Triveni by the floodwaters in 2018.

A private firm had removed the sediment from the river bed and heaped it at the spot in 2018.

The district collector should monitor the removal of the deposits. The department has prohibited the firm from selling the sand until further order.

Mr. Chennithala said persons contracted by the CPM-controlled public sector entity have been smuggling sand out of the Sabarimala forests since last week. He attempted to ink the “illegal removal of sand” to an aerial survey of the spot conducted by former Chief Secretary Tom Jose and State Police Chief Loknath Behera.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 10:42:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/forest-department-disallows-kannur-cpm-controlled-psu-from-removing-sand-from-pampa/article31737842.ece

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