Thiruvananthapuram: Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala on Tuesday expressed serious doubts on a 'secret' helicopter trip taken by Tom Jose and State Police chief Loknath Behera, hours before the former retired.
Jose retired on last Saturday from the post of chief secretary and handed over the charge to Vishwas Mehta on Monday morning.
Chennithala told the media here that the trip was a secret one to have a look into the tonnes of sand lying on the banks of river Pamba at the foothills of the famed Sabarimala temple.
According to estimates, Chennithala said the quantity of this sand is in excess of one lakh tonnes.
"Soon after this flying visit, the Pathanamthitta district authorities came out with an order giving the rights of removing this precious sand to the Kannur based state owned Kerala Clays and Ceramics Products," said Chennithala.
"What is intriguing is neither the forest nor revenue department is aware of what happened. This place is where the Forest Act is in vogue and the Revenue department is responsible for the sand. I read in the media that State Forest Minister K. Raju had no clue on this. This particular company has no expertise or has not done anything conclusive till now. This company is chaired by a top level CPI-M party official from Kannur," said Chennithala.
Kannur is the home town of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and State Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan, under whose department, this company is placed.
"We wish to know if a sand audit was conducted and also was the environmentalist consulted. My question is -- what are they going to do with the sand and if there are other 'players' involved in it? Today everything is happening under the guise of Covid, without taking into account even the concerned departments. We are questioning why this is now being done as this sand was lying there for two years. We want to hear from the government and then I will reveal more," added Chennithala.