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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Cong slams Vijayan over Kochi smog, demands CBI probe

Even as the smoke continues to emanate from the Brahmapuram waste plant site at Kochi for the 12th day, the Kerala Assembly on Monday witnessed an uproar with the opposition demanding a CBI probe.

The Congress-led opposition slammed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for his silence and the weak defence being put by Local Self Government Minister M.B. Rajesh.

Following stiff resistance from the treasury benches, the opposition boycotted the day’s proceedings and walked out of the House.

Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan slammed Rajesh, and Health Minister Veena George also came under heavy attack along with CM Vijayan.

“A CBI probe is the need of the hour on how the company, which won the tender to handle waste, got it. All know that this company has close links with a top CPI(M) leader. It’s surprising how Rajesh can say this company is handling similar waste disposal in other states, when we all know this company, which won the tender, did not qualify for it, after it was found that they had no experience in handling more than 10 tonnes waste,” said Satheesan.

“When the re-tender was done, this same company came up with a new certificate from a different official from Thirunelveli Municipal Corporation stating that they have handled more than 10 tonnes. Incidentally this same company is facing a case of cheating a German company. Also the Health Minister (Veena George) has done nothing and she keeps giving the same action-taken statement on successive days, even when a massive health emergency prevails in and around the waste plant site,” said Satheesan.

With Satheesan going hammer and tongs, the treasury benches expressed their ire leading to confusion and things went haywire when his mike was put off.

Following this, the entire opposition trooped to the well of the House and raised a banner preventing the Speaker from seeing what’s happening.

Soon there was more chaos and the Opposition boycotted the day’s proceedings and the session came to an end.

The highlight of the day was the stoic silence of Vijayan, who is known for his tough stance when the opposition creates ruckus, but on Monday Vijayan did utter a word.

Incidentally, the Kerala High Court on Friday had expressed its deep displeasure and asked the government, “when the ongoing smog at Kochi will clear up as things are very serious”.

The Kerala High Court had taken up this issue suo-motto after the fire, which began last week at the waste plant at Brahmapuram, had led to a dip in air quality in the city.

Due to the huge smoke cover over several areas, the data on the Kerala Pollution Control Board website showed PM2.5 and PM10 particulate levels in the air in Kochi which is way above the prescribed standards.

Beleaguered residents have been asked to wear N-95 masks if they venture out and schools have asked children in the lower classes to remain home.

Kerala BJP president K. Surendran on Monday said it was baffling that Vijayan is yet to seek assistance from the Centre and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was in the state on Sunday said all central assistance will be extended in an hour’s time when the request from the State comes.

“Vijayan is scared that if he seeks central assistance all the corrupt deals in handing over the Waste treatment plant to the present company will come out. He should seek the help of the NDRF as people are suffering badly at Kochi. Vijayan please come out from your hiding,” said Surendran.

(This article has been published via a syndicated feed)

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