CMRL kickback scandal: Rajeev hurls five questions at Kuzhalnadan

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Congress MLA Mathew Kuzhalnadan on Monday challenged industries minister P Rajeev to an open debate on the special favours given to Cochin Minerals and Rutile Limited (CMRL) by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Kuzhalnadan was addressing a press conference here at Thiruvananthapuram.

To this, Rajeev did not take up the gauntlet but, instead, hurled back five questions at the Congress MLA in a Facebook post.

One, why have the UDF leaders who are still alive and who should have been Kuzhalnadan’s actual targets not responded to his charges? Rajeev was referring to A K Antony and P K Kunhalikutty. The industries minister said the biggest favour done to the controversial company (CMRL) was the grant of mining leases. He said the process of granting mining leases started in 2002 during Antony’s tenure and came to fruition in 2004 when Oommen Chandy was Chief Minister. “Kuzhalnadan has not said why the UDF leaders have still not responded,” Rajeev said.

Two, if it was to favour CMRL why would the Chief Minister invoke his special powers, call a meeting and then secure a piece of legal advice from the advocate general against the grant of leases to CMRL?

Kuzhalnadan had alleged in his Part I that the CM had called for the files of the leases with the specific purpose to favour CMRL even though it did not directly come under his remit. Rajeev said the grant of leases was just one of the many items on the agenda of the meeting. In the case of leases, the decision was only to seek legal advice from the advocate general. The AG, in turn, had said that the lease need not be granted.

Three, how can IRE (Indian Rare Earths) sell ilmenite outside when there is an MoU that states that the ilmenite it extracts from the sand removed from the Thottappally spillway could be sold only to Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML)? Kuzhalnadan in his Part II had alleged that the ilmenite from the sand at Thottappally spillway was given to CMRL at throwaway prices. Rajeev said that KMML, which buys ilmenite from IRE for its own use, does not have any surplus to sell outside either.

Four, is Kuzhalnadan aware that Oommen Chandy had allowed IRE to remove sand from the Thottappally spillway within a month of receiving a request from IRE in 2012?

Fifth, how can Kuzhalnadan call for a debate when in fact it was UDF that had registered land in excess of ceiling limits in the name of CMRL? Kuzhalnadan in his Part III had alleged that the CM had gone out of his way to exempt CMRL from the ceiling limits imposed by the Land Reforms Act. Rajeev says that the excess land was bought by CMRL during the UDF tenure.

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