Thiruvananthapuram, July 19 (Calcutta Tube) Kerala’s Congress-led opposition Monday raised the issue of a controversial mangrove theme park at Kannur and staged a walkout in the assembly, prompting the government to hastily order the park shut.
Seeking permission to move an adjournment motion, Congress legislator from Kannur district K.C. Joseph reminded the house that this very august house in the past has taken up several issues concerning environment.
‘The park which is now owned by the (ruling front’s constituent) Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) controlled Pappinessery Eco-Tourism Society has blatantly violated all norms because this land falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone and it is an ecologically fragile area,’ said Joseph.
‘Fifteen varieties of precious mangroves are growing in this place and it is here you are building a food court, a health court and a convention centre with profit motive,’ charged Joseph.
Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh has already asked the owners of the theme park to immediately close it down for violating environmental laws.
Replying to this, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said the state-run Coastal Zone Managament authority chairman has appointed an expert committee and it will submit a report in two weeks.
‘The Kannur district collector has also been asked to look into the allegations,’ said Achuthanandan.
Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy hit out at Achuthanandan and said that the state government on two different occasions had informed the high court that the park cannot function as it had violated environmental laws.
‘On July 14, the centre has asked you to see that the park be closed down and nothing has happened so far. If till today it was the owners of the society who were responsible, now you and your government is also acting illegally and not taking steps against the park,’ fumed Chandy.
Chandy also blamed Forest Minister Binoy Viswam who claims to be a lover of environment.
‘The centre gave you Rs.5.5 million for protection of the mangroves three years back. You collected the money but did not take any follow up action,’ he said.
‘When it comes to building a house for fishermen you say that the CRZ rules are stiff and cannot be broken, but when it comes to building a theme park by the CPI-M, you are silent,’ said Chandy.
Dissatisfied by the silence from the treasury benches, Chandy led the entire opposition out of the assembly.
Hours after the chief minister assured the house about suitable action against the controversial park, the Kannur tehsildar served a notice to the society office-bearers asking them to close down the park with immediate effect.
After Achuthanandan made his statement in the assembly, the CPI-M Kannur district secretary P. Sasi told reporters in Kannur that they have done no wrong at all.
‘All that we have done is to plant more mangrove plants in the area and none can stop us from planting mangrove plants in the area. No rule is there that none should plant fresh plants. We have done nothing wrong,’ said Sasi to reporters.
Irked by the fierce onslaught by the Congress, the local CPI-M leadership in Kannur also raised the issue of the illegality of a snake park which was set up quite near the theme park by M.V. Raghavan, whose party is an ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front.