The Kerala Assembly on Monday, November 8, witnessed noisy scenes over the Left government's controversial order granting permission to Tamil Nadu for felling 15 trees downstream of the Baby Dam at Mullaperiyar reservoir. The opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) demanded a judicial probe into the issue, and later staged a walkout.
Raising the matter during the zero hour, Congress legislator and former Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan sought a notice for an adjournment motion and wanted the House to discuss it after halting other proceedings. Though Speaker MB Rajesh suggested to raise the issue as a submission instead of adjournment motion, the opposition stuck to its stand as they felt it as a "serious matter".
Besides demanding a judicial probe, the Congress-led UDF also wanted to know why the CPI(M)-led government was yet to cancel the order, instead of just freezing it. While replying to the notice, state Forest Minister AK Saseendran said the government would never accept the bureaucratic action taken against the interests of the state in this regard. "Safety for Kerala and water for Tamil Nadu is the state government's proclaimed policy in the Mullaperiyar issue. The state Assembly had passed a unanimous resolution in this regard. There will be no deviation from this stand," he said.
Read: Kerala govt claims it wasn't aware of felling of trees in Mullaperiyar Baby Dam
He also said the government was examining the circumstances that led to the issuing of the order permitting the neighbouring state for felling trees from the dam site, violating the government stand.
As the Speaker rejected leave for the motion based on the minister's reply, the opposition expressed their protest and staged a walkout in the House.
The Kerala government on Sunday froze the order by the Forest Department, granting permission to Tamil Nadu for felling 15 trees downstream of Baby Dam at Mullaperiyar reservoir and decided to take action against the officials who had issued it, a day after the neighbouring state's Chief Minister M K Stalin thanked his counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan for the decision.
Saseendran had told the media that the order was an 'unusual one' and there was a serious lapse on the part of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden, who had issued the order.
The minister had earlier in the day said the order was passed without the knowledge of his office, or that of the Irrigation minister or the Chief Minister's Office.
Stalin had on Saturday thanked Vijayan for "granting permission" for felling 15 trees downstream of the Baby Dam at Mullaperiyar reservoir and said he was informed by his officers of the Water Resources Department that the requisite permission was granted by the Forest Department of Kerala.