Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said a vigilance probe would be ordered into allegations of bid to transfer surplus government land to private parties by certain government officials in collusion with political leaders and middlemen in Wayanad district.
Vijayan made the announcement in the assembly after the issue was raised by Congress-led UDF Opposition in the wake of the exposure of the alleged role of CPI leaders and Wayanad district Deputy Collector in the land deal, by a Malayalam TV channel.
The CPI is the second largest partner in the CPI-M led LDF government. The government was committed to weed out corruption and it has the support of all service organisations, Vijayan said adding still there were some employees who had not shed their old habits (accepting bribe).
Though no corruption has taken place at the government-level, as the issue has come up, a vigilance investigation would be ordered, Vijayan said. The state government had yesterday suspended Deputy Collector T Somanathan after visuals aired by the TV channel purportedly showed him accepting bribe.
Rejecting the Opposition charges that there was a ‘nexus’ between party leaders and officials for the conversion of land to facilitate its sale to private parties, State Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan said a comprehensive departmental inquiry by land commissioner was also on.
While asserting that no transfer of land had taken place, the Minister said any one found guilty would be punished. The sting operation carried out by the channel was a deliberate attempt to malign the CPI, the Revenue Department and the ruling LDF, Chandrasekharan alleged. However, he said the party would examine if any lapse had occurred at the party-level and would take suitable action.
Meanwhile, the UDF opposition members and the lone BJP member staged a walkout demanding a judicial probe into the alleged nexus between land mafia and CPI leaders, as they were not satisfied with the government response on the issue.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala charged the CPI with becoming a party that has ‘dealings’ with land mafia. Earlier, when the opposition UDF moved a notice for adjournment motion on the issue, the Speaker rejected it.
The channel’s team had approached official and some CPI district leaders posing as businessman interested in buying land for constructing a resort at Kottarthara village in Wayanad district. In the clip aired on Monday, the real estate broker identified as one Kunju Mohammed is seen telling that Rs 20 lakhs must be paid as bribe to officials and political leaders for the purpose.
The Deputy Collector is also seen explaining the various steps to be taken for the conversion of surplus land to be transferred to individuals.