Ruckus in Assembly over Wetland Act
Proceedings in the Assembly were adjourned on Thursday after acrimonious scenes, with the Opposition LDF members rushing to the well of the House alleging they were insulted by members of the ruling front with obscene gestures and booing while they were staging a walkout.
Speaker G Karthikeyan declared the adjournment of the House after a meeting convened by him with the leaders of political parties in the House failed to break the deadlock.
Trouble began brewing after permission was denied for an adjournment motion on government moves to allegedly dilute the provisions of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy and Wetland Act. Former Agriculture Minister and CPI member Mullakara Ratnakaran, who gave notice for the motion, alleged that the government was playing hide and seek on the issue.
However, the Treasury benches and especially Chief Minister Oommen Chandy kept scoring over the Opposition by presenting details and even orders establishing that the former LDF government was instrumental in giving the green signal for regularising paddyfield and wetland reclamation through a slew of measures.
When Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan alleged that the government was colluding with the land mafia and brought the issue of land conversion attempts for the proposed Aranmula airport into focus, the ruling front turned the tables on him with all vigour. Chandy pointed out that it was the previous LDF Government which had notified 2,500 acres of land including paddyfields for acquisition in Aranmula belt for the airport project.
Also, the Chief Minister laid documents on the table of the House stating that his predecessor had even ordered the Pathanamthitta District Collector to report after completing the exercise and facilitate construction of the airport. Though Mullakara Ratnakaran reminded a government was entitled to take corrective measures, the loss of face for the Opposition was palpable. However, Achuthanandan announced a walkout.
At this juncture, young members in the UDF camp shouted and booed at the opposite side. While many LDF members were already outside the hall, some turned back and began to counter the shouting.
The protests gained momentum within no time and members grouped and started slogan shouting demanding action against some UDF members, bringing the House proceedings to a standstill. Though Speaker Karthikeyan said that he will go through the visuals and suitable action will be taken, the Opposition members were unrelenting.
After a conciliation meet failed to yield any result, the House was adjourned for the rest of the day. While submissions and calling attention motions were cancelled, the Kerala Finance Bill 2012 was referred to a subject committee.