Opposition UDF members stage walkout from Kerala Assembly over trees felling issue

Insight Online News

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 8 : Opposition members of Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), who demanded a judicial probe into the Kerala Government Order (GO) granting permission to Tamil Nadu for felling 15 trees downstream of Mullaperiyar dam, staged a walkout from the Assembly in protest against the denial of an adjournment motion on the issue.

Questioning the government’s decision to withhold the GO instead of cancelling it, Opposition leader VD Satheesan alleged that the GO was issued with the knowledge of the top Government officials and the CPI(M) leadership in the State.

Seeking the leave of the house to move the adjournment motion in this regard, Congress member Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said the Left Government compromised with the Tamil Nadu on the security of the 126 year-old Mullaperiyar dam.

In his reply, Forest Minister AK Saseendran said the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden had issued the order on November 5 giving permission to TN for felling 15 trees. This was followed by a request from Tamil Nadu seeking permission to remove 23 trees.

Following a letter in this regard from the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the state government swung into the action and decided to withhold the order on Sunday itself, the Minister said.

Mr Saseendran said the cutting of trees from the Tiger Reserve which is a part of the sanctuary is subject to grant of clearance by the Union Ministry of Environmental and Forests and other statutory authorities concerned.

Tamil Nadu has to obtain approval from the Standing Committee of National Board of Wild Life (Wildlife clearance) and the Environmental clearance in addition to Forest clearance under Forest Conservation Act 1980, for diversion of forest land, the Minister clarified.

“By giving permission for felling trees to strengthen the Baby dam, Kerala has accepted the TN plan to raise the water level in Mullaperiyar to 152 ft,” Mr Satheesan alleged.

“In the previous Assembly election, the DMK had donated Rs 25 crore to CPI and CPI(M) which fielded only four candidates in TN. In this circumstances, the decision to issue the order was part of a political conspiracy,” he alleged.

As Speaker MB Rajesh denied permission to move the adjournment motion, the Opposition members, protesting it, staged a walkout from the house and criticised the silence of the Chief Minister.


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