Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Congress (M) chief K. M. Mani trained his guns on CPI in the assembly on Tuesday with the UDF support over the failure of the forest department to save the Ponthanpuzha forest reserve.
He attacked the CPI referring to a recent high court judgement. Even as forest minister K. Raju asserted that the government was committed to preserving forests, CPM members remained mute spectators.
Though CPI MLA Chittayam Gopakumar raised a point of order that the notice should not be allowed as the issue is under the court's consideration, Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan allowed it "considering its relevance".
Mr Mani, who raised the issue through a notice for an adjournment motion, said the government should file a revision petition against the high court order to see that the forest land does not go into the hands of private parties.
Replying to the notice, Mr Raju rejected the opposition charge that there were lapses in conducting the case and made it clear that the government would file a revision petition and take steps to preserve the disputed areas as reserve forest.
The minister said that there were several farmers settled in the area much before January 1, 1977, and all of them would be given ‘pattas’ with NOC of the forest department. As the motion was not allowed, the opposition walked out.
Referring to a recent Kerala High Court order in a case related to Ponthanpuzha forest reserve, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the government had lost the case due to failure in presenting the facts of more than 7,000 acres of reserve land in Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts.
He said Alapra and Valiyakavu reserves that form part of the Ponthanpuzha forest had been denotified now risking several factors.
The Manimala and Pampa rivers, the major source of drinking water for Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts, originated from the forest, he said.
He alleged that there was serious lapse on the part of the government in conducting the case properly in the high court due to which the verdict went in favour of private claimants of the land....