The Kerala High Court on Tuesday rejected Transport Minister Thomas Chandy’s petition challenging a government report alleging gross violation of conservation regulations and illegal reclamation of a water body in the construction of ancillary facilities at his resort in Alappuzha backwaters.
Chandy, the wealthiest legislator in the Assembly, is the lone nominee of NCP in the CPM-led Cabinet. He is the director of Water World Tourism Company, which runs the Rs 150-crore Lake Palace Resort in Alappuzha. District Collector T V Anupama had recently reported to the government that the resort had allegedly encroached upon a nearby lake and violated paddy/wetland conservation rules.
Rejecting his petition, the division bench of Justices P N Raveendran and Devan Ramachandran pulled up the minister for petitioning against the government while being a part of it. The court said the minister should have approached the District Collector if he wanted corrections in her report. His appeal in the court against the government showed he has lost faith in the Cabinet as well as the Chief Minister, said the bench.
The division bench suggested Chandy to approach the district administration in this regard, It said the Collector should take a decision on the matter within 15 days after meeting him. As pressure to quit the Cabinet mounts on Chandy, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters on Tuesday, “Appropriate decision would be taken at the right time. Besides, the stand of the NCP has to be considered.’’
It is learnt that all constituents of the Left Democratic Front, except NCP, are in favour Chandy’s exit to protect the government’s image.
The NCP state leadership met on Tuesday to discuss the issue, but left the final decision to the party’s central leadership. State NCP president T P Peethambaran said the party’s parliamentary board, which has appointed the minister, would take a decision on whether he should go or not. “Chandy would quit if the Chief Minister demands it. As of now, the party is backing the minister since the court has not given an adverse verdict against him,’’ he said.
However, the CPI, the second leading constituent of LDF, criticised the NCP’s stand. CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran said the court’s observations against Chandy are very serious. Referring to the NCP’s decision to rally behind Chandy, he said, “When a minister controls a party, such things happen.’’
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress, which has been demanding Chandy’s resignation, was embarrassed when the party’s Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha appeared for Chandy in the high court. Senior Congress leader V M Sudheeran said Tankha has betrayed the party by appearing for the “tainted minister’’.