Thiruvananthapuram: Congress’ Kerala state chief K. Sudhakaran has demanded the resignation of forest minister A.K. Saseendran over the government’s decision to allow the felling of trees at Mullaperiyar as requested by Tamil Nadu.
The Congress also demanded judicial inquiry regarding the sanction to cut trees at Mullaperiyar for strengthening the baby dam at Mullaperiyar.
It may be noted that Tamil Nadu PWD minister S. Duraimurugan while leading a delegation of ministers to Mullaperiyar on Friday had requested the Kerala government to allow sanction to fell trees at the dam site to strengthen the baby dam and earthen dam.
The Kerala forest minister A.K. Saseendran had said that he did not have any idea on the order of cutting trees at the Baby dam, and this has provoked the opposition.
K. Sudharakan, State Congress president while speaking to media said, “Congress demands the resignation of Kerala forest minister, A.K. Saseendran who has said that he did not know about the order regarding the cutting of trees. The government must order a judicial inquiry on the issue and it seems that Kerala has become subservient to Tamil Nadu in Mullaperiyar.”
BJP state president, K. Surendran said that Kerala was threatened by the Tamil Nadu government and the state had meekly subdued. The BJP leader also demanded the resignation of the Kerala forest minister.
Former Kerala water resources minister, P.J. Joseph while speaking to reporters at Thodupuzha said that the state forest minister does not have any right to continue in office if he was not aware of the decision of a forest officer to allow sanction to cut trees.
RSP leader and MP, N.K. Premachandran, a former state water resources minister while addressing media persons at Kollam said, “Kerala Chief Minister has to reply to the people of the state on the matter. He cannot shy away from the issue which is the life and death matter of several lakhs of people of the state. Kerala has become submissive to Tamil Nadu in Mullaperiyar issue”.
In a major jolt to the Kerala government, a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Peerumedu and CPI leader, Vazhoor Soman said that giving sanctions to cut trees at Mullaperiyar was not advisable and the forest minister should have checked facts before the officer has given sanction to cut trees.
The statement from the leader of CPI which is the second-largest constituent party in the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) after the CPM is considered a major shock to the CPM and Chief Minister.
However, sources in the CPM while speaking to IANS said that the government would have taken a lenient stand to pave way for a new dam at Mullaperiyar which was the ultimate goal for the government of Kerala to solve the vexed issue permanently. The Chief Ministers of the two states are meeting at Chennai in December for further discussions regarding Mullaperiyar dam.
Kerala has been demanding the construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar instead of the 126-year-old present dam which according to several dam experts has outlived its expectancy period. Recently a report by the UN research department has stated that the present dam at Mullaperiyar has to be decommissioned and a new one be constructed which is not acceptable to the Tamil Nadu side.