Thiruvananthapuram: Demanding a probe into sand mining order, the Congress has alleged that a state public sector unit with no expertise has been given permission to lift sand from Pamba river banks, at the foothills of the Sabarimala temple, for free.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala, here on Tuesday, also questioned a 'secret' helicopter trip by Chief Secretary Tom Jose and Kerala Police chief Loknath Behera, hours before the former retired.
Chennithala said soon after his raising of the issue, the Forest Special Secretary ordered ban on sale of sand. "Who took the decision to give the order to this PSU, as neither the cabinet nor the Forest Department was aware of it. When they came to know of it, they blocked it," the Congress leader said.
"Forest Minister K. Raju has said he didn't know of it," the Congress leader said and added for the past two days sand was being ferried out.
Demanding a probe, Chennithala said how a state PSU with no experience was given the task. "Who is the beneficiary of this corrupt deal? According to reports, two private companies will benefit from it," he said.
Pointing to a 2014 cabinet decision on river sand mining, he said the rules were clear that it needed the Forest Department's clearance and a proper sand audit. "The sand mining order was issued under the Disaster Management guidelines, a clever ploy by these officials," Chennithala said.
Jose later clarified he had gone for the survey of the area where sand had accumulated. Jose retired on Saturday. Vishwas Mehta took over the charge on Monday.
Kannur is the home town of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and State Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan, under whose department the PSU comes.