THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A day after a TV sting operation exposed an alleged land fraud in Wayanad involving Revenue officials and the district leaders of the ruling CPI, the government announced a Vigilance probe.
It was Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who announced a Vigilance probe in the House. Raising the issue in the Assembly, the Opposition UDF alleged widespread land frauds and encroachments across the state. The UDF, along with Kerala Congress (M) and the BJP, demanded a judicial probe into the episode considering the gravity of the issue, and staged a walkout from the House.
Responding to the adjournment motion over the issue, Revenue Minister and senior CPI leader E Chandrasekharan alleged deliberate attempts to tarnish the Left government, the Revenue Department and the CPI. Soon after the sting operation came out, a Deputy Collector was suspended.
The Revenue Commissioner has been entrusted with the task of conducting a probe. Chandrasekharan urged the Opposition not to make political gains out of the issue. The party will carry out a probe into the issue, he said, adding that the government is committed to protecting public land.
Responding to the allegations, the minister said, though his office received a complaint, no action favouring them was taken. The 20 acres of surplus land had been kept away for common use by the Land Board. “If there are lapses on the part of the party leaders, that will be probed and action taken,” the minister said.
Pinarayi too said there’s no ministerial or top bureaucrat-level corruption in the issue. “The government will not tolerate corruption. In the wake of the allegation, a Vigilance investigation would be carried out,” he said. He admitted that a small section of officials do indulge in corruption. “An official has been found involved. The government will show no compromise on corruption and will not protect him,” Pinarayi said.
The Opposition alleged the CPI has been hand in glove with the land mafia in the state. Seeking leave for adjournment motion, V D Satheesan said the Revenue officials have come up with an innovative way of taking bribe. There are attempts to grab surplus land with the government.
What has come out is just a tip of the iceberg, Satheesan said there are widespread land frauds not only in Wayanad but also across the state.
“The CPI district leadership, along with Revenue officials, are involved in corruption. While the Revenue Minister and secretary are on a cold war, party leaders are colluding with officials to facilitate such frauds,” he said.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala unleashed a scathing attack on the CPI, which has been acting as the corrective force within the Left. There are about 115 encroachments reported in Idukki after the Left took over, he alleged.
“When the land mafia is trying to spread its tentacles across the state, if the government fails to control them, there’s no justification for Chandrasekharan to continue as minister,” he said while accusing the minister of trying to trivialise the issue. “The Revenue Department is being run by the party leaders, not the minister,” he added.
Area (in hectares) from which encroachers have been evicted in 602 cases since LDF came to power