LDF stages walkout over plantation estate issue

CPI(M)-led LDF opposition in Kerala on Tuesday staged a walkout from the state Assembly.

Thiruvananthapuram: CPI(M)-led LDF opposition in Kerala on Tuesday staged a walkout from the state Assembly, protesting the government`s refusal to set up an Assembly committee to probe alleged lapses by the government to take back those plantation estates whose lease period have expired.

The opposition alleged the ruling UDF was not sincere in handling the cases connected with the plantation estates in Nelliyampathi and other parts in the state, filed by their owners and the "government lost many cases as it failed to present them effectively".

Replying to the notice for adjournment motion moved by V Chenthamarakshan (CPI-M), Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Forest Minister KB Ganeshkumar said no inch of forest land and estates would be allowed to be lost and refuted the LDF charge that cases pertaining to the estates were not handled by advocates with integrity.

Seeking to turn the tables on the opposition, Chandy said the matter about an estate at Muppalivally in Nellaympathi, which was mentioned in the motion, happened during the tenure of the previous LDF rule.

The case was lost and the estate was returned to private owners during LDF rule, Chandy said. "It is ridiculous on the part of LDF to blame the UDF government for the mistakes and omissions during the LDF rule," he said.

The government was pursuing the case and steps were being taken to restore it back to the state, he said.

Opposition members alleged government chief whip PC George had intervened in favour of the estate owners.

Leader of the Opposition VS Achuthanandan then mooted the idea of an Assembly committee to look into all matters connected with the estate issue.

However, Chandy said there was no confusion or differences between the forest minister and the chief whip on the matter and asserted that government was committed to protecting forest land and would take steps to recover the plantation estates.