Kerala Oppn demands probe into order allowing TN to cut trees at Mullaperiyar dam


The Opposition in Kerala Assembly on Monday demanded a judicial probe into the forest department’s order allowing Tamil Nadu to fell trees to strengthen the baby dam near the ageing Mullaperiyar dam.

The order, which was dated November 5, resurfaced on November 6 and reportedly the government noticed it on Sunday.

Seeking leave for an adjournment motion to discuss the controversial order, former State Forest Minister and Congress veteran Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said the move will weaken Kerala’s demand for a new dam.

“Government’s justification that it had no clue about it and that the order was brought out by the officials is not convincing. A judicial probe should be initiated to find out how such an order, which is detrimental to the interest of Kerala, could be issued,” he said.

Incidentally, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Bennychen P. Thomas had issued the order last week.

No sooner did Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin’s note thanking Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for the permission surface on Sunday, the Opposition tore into the CM and State Forest Minister A.K. Saseendran, and accused them of helping Tamil Nadu on the sly.

Responding to the Congress’ demand in the Assembly, Saseendran clarified that the political leadership and the state government had no role in the decision.

“Tamil Nadu had sought permission for cutting down 23 trees and we came to know of the order only after it came out giving sanction to felling of 15 trees. As we had no clue about it, we asked the order to be freezed. An appropriate action will soon be taken,” said Saseendran.

Unhappy with the response, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan accused the Vijayan government of playing foul.

“In the Supreme Court, the Vijayan government takes a stand but plays foul by giving permission to the Tamil Nadu government, leaving Kerala in dire straits. Because of this order, the water level at the Mullaperiyar will rise, putting more pressure on the structure. Everything this government does is mysterious and is not acceptable as when the Apex Court is going to hear the case, an order like this will be detrimental,” said Satheesan, staging a walkout with the entire opposition.

Recently, the UN had said that the present Mullaperiyar dam posed a grave threat to the people and that it had outlived its age. It had also recommended the construction of a new dam.