TAMIL NADU

I have no secret agenda, says Kunhalikkutty

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, OCT. 11. The Industries Minister, P. K. Kunhalikkutty, today refuted the Congress leader, V. M. Sudheeran's allegation that he (Mr. Kunhalikkutty) appeared to have a secret agenda in pushing the mineral sand-mining project in the Arattupuzha-Thrikkunnapuzha area of Alappuzha district.

Mr. Kunhalikkutty said at a news conference here that he had been consistent in his opinion that the State should try to exploit the rich mineral deposits in the district so that the Government got higher revenue. It could also create more jobs. The Central Government's mineral policy favoured mining by the private sector, but the UDF had not gone to that extent. All that it had tried to do was to facilitate establishment of a joint sector initiative in which the Government would also have a say. He was also certain that the only people who would benefit from any laxity on the part of the State Government in utilising the mineral sand resources would be those engaged in smuggling the mineral-rich sand from the locality, the Minister said.

Outside hand

Mr. Kunhalikkutty alleged that utilisation of the mineral sands in Kerala was being obstructed by some companies outside the State. The decision to seek Central clearance for mineral sand-mining was taken after the Cabinet discussed the issue thrice. The clearance came only after the UPA Government came to power. When the issue was taken to the Kerala High Court by some persons, the Government consulted the Advocate General on how to go about it and it was told that it could go ahead with granting lease rights on the condition that actual mining would be subject to the final orders of the Court. "How could things be more transparent than this," the Minister asked.

Mr. Kunhalikkutty said he had at no point of time stated that all processes connected with the mining project would remain suspended indefinitely. The Chief Minister had also not stated so. All that he and the Chief Minister had stated was that further steps would be taken only after more studies.

Mr. Kunhalikkutty said he had an excellent rapport with Mr. Sudheeran and did not wish to make any negative remarks against him or jump to the conclusion that he was speaking on behalf of some vested interests. On Mr. Sudheeran's allegation that the Muslim League had played a role in his defeat in the recent Lok Sabha election, the Minister said he had intervened when Mr. Sudheeran voiced such a complaint during the election campaign and tried to persuade the party to be more active in its campaign.

Recommended for you