Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran agreed that he had asked the PSU rank holders their rank, but denied insulting them.

Kerala Minister Kadakampally Surendran in a blue shirt standing and facing a mike
news Controversy Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 09:11

Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) rank holders, who have been protesting outside the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram for the last 28 days, have alleged that one of the cabinet ministers, whom they met on Monday morning, insulted them by asking their rank in the PSC list. Though the protesters did not name the Minister, they reportedly met Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Monday. The Minister also agreed that he had asked them the rank they secured but denied insulting them. 

Laya Rajesh, one of the protesters, told the media that the Minister asked her, her rank. "When I replied 583, he asked me even if the rank list is valid for another 10 years, I would not get a job with this rank. He also asked why we are insulting the government with this protest," she told the media.

The rank holders have been demanding government jobs since the rank list was announced in 2018. They also demanded to extend the validity of the rank list as they get a placement at least when the next vacancy list is announced. 

Read: ‘No plans to end agitation if govt doesn’t listen’: Kerala PSC rank holders

But both PSC and Kerala government had said that the list will have more number of rank holders than the existing vacancies and all of them will not get jobs.

Reacting to the allegations of insulting the PSC rank holders, Minister Kadakampally Surendran denied insulting the candidates. "No government, during any tenure, has appointed all candidates in the rank list. It is not possible," he told the media. 

In the last 28 days, hundreds of rank holders have been staging different modes of protests outside the Secretariat, seeking government jobs. Political groups involving Youth Congress and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) conducted marches towards the Secretariat in support of the protesters. Their marches had also turned violent.

The protesters had also questioned the Kerala government for giving appointments to temporary staff amid allegations of ‘backdoor placements’. As the protests began, the government stopped giving appointments to temporary staff.

The National Green Tribunal has sought the Union government’s response to frame guidelines to decommission old power plants. This comes after the Neyveli Lignite Corporation decided to decommission its Thermal Power Station I in Tamil Nadu on September 30 last year after being in operation since 1962.

The Southern Zone Bench of the NGT in Chennai, comprising Justice Ramakrishnan and Expert Member Saibal Dasgupta, issued notices after a petition was filed by Dharmesh Shah demanding that hazardous substances be disposed of properly while decommissioning a state-owned thermal power plant. 

Notices have been issued to the Union government, the Central Electricity Authority, the Central Pollution Control Board and the Neyveli Lignite Corporation after a hearing was held on February 12.

According to the petitioner, project owners often prioritise economic concerns over environmental ones in such a scenario, leaving the plant sites environmentally unsafe.

The petitioner has sought for the Central or State Pollution Control Boards to ensure that decommissioning is done in an internationally accepted and scientific manner to prevent the contamination of water, air and soil. He also demanded the court to direct the respondents to place the decommissioning process on record. Further, he asked that in the absence of proper scientific procedure, the CPCB should develop and ensure the implementation of the scientific process to decommission power plants. 

The petitioner also asked the court to direct that a committee comprising experts be formed to oversee the decommissioning process.

“According to the applicant, if there is no proper guideline provided, then it will have a greater impact on the environment due to non-disposal of fly ash that is left and also other hazardous substance that has been produced as by-products during the period of its operation,” the NGT order stated. 

It added that it is satisfied that the questions need to be addressed in a scientific manner as “it is required to have some guideline to be followed by the Thermal Power plants that want to decommission.”

The application filed to the court demanded that the proper disposal and related site remediation costs be borne by NLC.

The Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 make the occupier responsible for the safe disposal of hazardous substances, but no procedure has been notified for the same. According to the petitioner, the management of hazardous substances does not find a mention in the decommissioning tender guidelines or contractor deliverables issued by plant operators.

Chemicals such as asbestos, arsenic, lead and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), which have been linked to fatal diseases, are commonly used in thermal power plants. Coal ash, another toxic by-product is known to contaminate soil and water, as well as harm human health and ecology.

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