Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Wednesday ordered a vigilance probe into the previous Left government`s decision to give approval" for iron ore mining in state`s Kozhikode district to a company based in Karnataka`s Bellary.
The then VS Achuthanandan government had in 2010 accorded "in-principle approval" for granting the mining lease to the company for mining iron ore over an area of 406.45 hectares at Chakkittapara.
Incidentally early in the day after the weekly cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had indicated that very soon the state government will be announcing a probe.
The project had itself had run into trouble then (in 2010) with the locals up in arms. The issue snowballed when it was found out that the Left government then had overlooked the Kudremukh Iron Ore company, a central public sector which also is into mining.
Speaking to reporters, State Industries Minister PK Kunhalikutty said that when his government came (May 2011), it found out that this project did not have any clearance from the central environment ministry.
"...it dawned on us that this is not a project which would be welcome and we decided to cancel the agreement. We in fact should be complimented for cancelling this and my department recommended a vigilance probe into this deal," he said.
His predecessor, Elamaram Karim, who is now under the spotlight for giving the nod to the Bellary-based company welcomed the probe.
"I fully welcome the probe and have no fears. Let all the issues come out and want it to be a fair one," he said.
Ever since questions about the deal surfaced, top Congress leaders have been demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the deal. Party leader VM Sudheeran said that a CBI probe would be more appropriate as it involves companies outside Kerala.