KL This Week: Government Orders Probe in Dumpyard Fire, Kochi Corporation Fined Rs 100 Crore by NGT
Image by R Prakash
NewsClick brings you a round-up of the happenings across Kerala this week as we look at the disruption of the Assembly proceedings by the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF), the probe ordered by the state government on the Brahmapuram fire accident, and the approval accorded for the Sabarimala greenfield airport.
RUCKUS IN ASSEMBLY
The proceedings of the Assembly were disrupted since March 15 after the Speaker refused permission for an adjournment motion in the House regarding an assault on a minor girl. The UDF members assembled before the office of the speaker, leading to tension after which the watch and ward staff removed the MLAs from the entrance of the office.
The UDF MLAs complained of assault by the watch and ward staff and MLAs from the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF). However, the watch and ward staff members were reportedly admitted to the hospital due to internal injuries during the scuffle, while MLA K K Rema, a UDF ally in the house, has complained of a fracture in her left arm.
The LDF leaders in the Assembly criticised Rema for “faking” an injury, while former minister of health and central committee member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] K K Shylaja visited the injured watch and ward staff.
The speaker of the house, A N Shamseer, rejected the allegations by the UDF MLAs, who accused him of denying permission to move an adjournment motion on multiple occasions. The speaker ruled against the allegations and an all-party meeting held on March 16 failed to break the deadlock and the house was adjourned on March 16.
The house will meet again on March 20.
ENQUIRY ORDERED IN DUMPYARD FIRE INCIDENT
The government of Kerala has ordered a detailed enquiry on the Brahmapuram dump yard fire accident case. The chief minister made the announcement in the Assembly after the fire was doused after 12 days on March 13.
The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Department will hold an investigation regarding procedures followed by the Kochi Municipal Corporation on offering tenders relating to the dump yard.
An expert team enquiry has also been ordered which will identify the cause of the fire, the situation of the solid waste management in the dump yard and the future course of action in managing the dump yard.
Meanwhile, the NGT has levied a fine of Rs 100 on the corporation for the disastrous accident and the pollution due to the poisonous gas emitted during the fire. The corporation has been ordered to pay the fine to the chief secretary of the state within 30 days, while the mayor of the corporation has pointed to the lack of funds and is contemplating appealing the order.
RAIN BRINGS RELIEF, HAILSTORM IN IDUKKI VILLAGE
After days of scorching temperatures and heat waves, several places in the state witnessed a drop in the heat due to rains. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted isolated rains till March 19 in central and southern districts, in a huge relief to the people. The IMD has advised people to exercise caution as the possibilities of thunderstorms and lightning are high in the next three days.
A tribal village in Idukki District, Swamiyalakudi Ooru, reportedly received hailstorms on March 17.
Parts of Kochi also received showers on March 16, bringing relief to the residents stifled by the toxic gas from the dump yard fire. Reports of acidic rains were rejected by the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) and the Pollution Control Board (PCB) after sample testings were carried out.
The pH values of the samples collected were similar to that of normal rainwater and both organisations rejected the claims of acid rain.
APPROVAL FOR SABARIMALA AIRPORT
The ambitious project of the government of Kerala, a greenfield airport in the hill shrine of Sabarimala, has received approval from the Union Defence Ministry. The request for approval was filed by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) in June 2020.
The reports on final technical and feasibility were filed on June 2022, followed by the reports on land availability, impact study, and domestic return rate.
The LDF government has ordered the land acquisition of 2,570 acres in January 2023 in Erumeli South and Manimala villages in the Pathanamthitta district.
PRESIDENT ON FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT
The President of the country, Droupati Murmu, is on her first official visit to Kerala from March 16. She arrived in Kochi, where she was received by the governor and chief minister among others including the Navy officials.
She presented the President's Colours to INS Dronacharya, the gunnery school of the Indian Navy at Fort Kochi. She will visit Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and visit the members of self-help groups (SHGs) in Lakshadweep islands during her visit till March 21.
While inaugurating an event associated with the 25th anniversary of the Kudumbashree, the women’s SHGs in Kerala, she recorded her appreciation for the achievements of the state when it comes to women empowerment.
M V GOVINDAN SENDS DEFAMATION NOTICE TO SWAPNA SURESH
The CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan has sent a Rs 1 crore defamation notice to Swapna Suresh, the accused in the gold smuggling case on her baseless allegations. She has been levelling charges against several CPI(M) leaders.
Swapna had claimed that a middleman approached her with an offer of Rs 30 crores and intimidated her to withdraw the allegations. However, the middleman, Vijesh Pillai refuted her claims.
The CPI(M) also has filed cases across the state against Swapna on her continuous allegations against important leaders of the party including chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Dr Thomas Isaac and former speaker P Sreeramakrishnan.
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