KOCHI: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB), Ernakulam Range, has registered a case against the chairman of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and its member secretary in connection with the renewal of licence of Sreesakthy Paper Mills in 2015. The company was closed down last year after it was found to be polluting the Periyar.The case has been registered against K Sajeevan, chairman, KSPCB, Pattom, Thiruvananthapuram, and KSPCB member secretary P Molikutty, who was in charge between 2010 and 2015. This apart, Sreesakthy Paper Mills, Edayar Industrial Development Area, Muppathadam, and its directors S Rajkumar and P Padmanabhan have also been arraigned as accused in the FIR registered at the Muvattupuzha Vigilance Court last week.
Following the allegations, the VACB had last year conducted a quick verification in connection with the incident and found Sreesakthy Paper Mills was polluting Periyar river. The FIR in the case was registered following a directive from the Vigilance Director on October 5. “The first and the second accused, who are officers of the Pollution Control Board, misused their official position to help the company. This enabled the company to attain financial gain.
By misusing the official position, the first and second accused renewed the operational licence of the company without considering the public interest in this matter. The investigation revealed the operations of the company have affected the environment,” the FIR stated.“Following mass protests, we had conducted a Quick Verification, which revealed the company was discharging untreated effluents to Periyar river. The KSPCB had slapped closure notice on the company after other environmental agencies intervened in the matter. But in 2015, the operational licence of the company was renewed by the KSPCB itself. Usually, an inspection has to be carried out before renewing the licence. If the officers had visited the company location, they would not have renewed the licence,” a VACB officer said.
The case has been registered under section 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act.
Following stiff protests in 2016, the then Sub-Divisional Magistrate R Suhas had ordered the company to shut down its operations. In the closure order, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate stated effluents causing danger and health hazards were discharged from Sreesakthy Paper Mills to the Periyar river.