Mathew Kuzhalnadan vs Pinarayi Vijayan: Congress MLA unveils 'Part III' of allegations against Kerala CM

Kuzhalnadan alleged that the CM interfered on behalf of CMRL

mathew-kuzhalnadan-pinarayi-vijayan Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and Congress MLA Mathew Kuzhalnadan (Facebook photos)

Congress MLA Mathew Kuzhalnadan unveiled “Part III” of his allegations against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, which he was unable to present in the state assembly due to the Speaker's intervention. The Muvattupuzha MLA convened a press conference on Monday morning to assert that the Chief Minister had intervened on behalf of the controversial company, CMRL, seeking exemptions from restrictions imposed under the Kerala Land Reforms Act. 

“The Communist Party often touts the Land Reforms Act as their greatest legislation for the benefit of the poor, downtrodden, and farmers,” remarked Kuzhalnadan while accusing the CM of taking steps to assist CMRL in circumventing the legislation.

Kuzhalnadan alleged that the Chief Minister interfered on behalf of CMRL in a matter falling under the purview of the Revenue Department. He further asserted that the Chief Minister is the prime suspect in the CMRL pay-off controversy, which arose following revelations by an I-T interim settlement board verdict, indicating that the CM's daughter Veena Vijayan and her company Exalogic received Rs1.72 crore under false pretences from the contentious firm, Cochin Minerals and Rutile Limited. 

Kuzhalnadan raised concerns regarding the CM’s involvement in facilitating the acquisition of 51 acres of land by CMRL in Thrikkunnapuzha of Alappuzha district. Additionally, he highlighted that the company has held 60 acres in Alappuzha for the past two decades, exceeding the 15-acre limit stipulated by the Land Reforms Act.

The Congress legislator emphasized that requests for exemptions allowing additional land holdings must undergo deliberation by the district-level committee, with a primary focus on public interest. “Since the district committee did not support CMRL's request, it was subsequently rejected by the revenue department,” Kuzhalnadan clarified.

“For such exemptions to be granted, there is a stipulation that one acre must entail an investment of Rs10 crore and create 20 jobs. Over time, this requirement has been revised,” he further elaborated.

The revenue department declined the company's application in May 2021 due to the lack of endorsement from the district committee. “The district committee withheld its recommendation because the proposal did not meet the criteria deemed worthy of endorsement,” Kuzhalnadan said.

Twice, the company sought reconsideration of the decision but was rebuffed on both occasions. Subsequently, the company submitted an application to the Chief Minister on July 5, 2021. Initially, CMRL proposed a mineral complex project, but later, when the application reached the Chief Minister, CMRL introduced plans for tourism and solar projects. Additionally, the company expressed its intention to establish a working women’s consortium.

Kuzhalnadan asserted that the Chief Minister promptly intervened on behalf of the KREML company—affiliated with CMRL—to initiate the project on the land in Alappuzha district. The Muvattupuzha MLA further stated that the Chief Minister directly intervened to grant land concessions. 

He went on to mention that subsequently, the Chief Minister presented a proposal [in January 2022] to amend the laws pertaining to the Land Reforms Act during a cabinet meeting. “The objective of this action was to dilute the laws [related to land holdings],” Kuzhalnadan remarked.

Kuzhalnadan stated that following the intervention of the chief minister, the company lodged another application with the district committee for the third time. Subsequently, the new district committee granted approval to the application in June 2022, and it recommended to the Land Board to grant exemption under Section 81.3 of the Kerala Land Reforms Act for a 51-acre plot in Thrikkunnapuzha.

Kuzhalnadan highlighted that according to the scheme, 20 individuals are expected to be employed per acre. With a concession granted for 50 acres, a total of 1000 jobs should be generated. However, the company proposed a scheme that offers a maximum of 230 employment opportunities. “The question arises whether such a proposal can be accepted,” queried the MLA. “It is evident that the Chief Minister intervened unlawfully on behalf of this company.”

Despite the Chief Minister's intervention on behalf of the company, which contravene the law, the revenue department maintained that the land could not be allocated due to an ongoing legal case concerning the property.

However, Kuzhalnadan asserted that the company has the option to challenge this decision in court. “Since the district committee has recommended granting the exemption, the court will take it into consideration. With the district committee's endorsement, there will be no alternative for the government but to acknowledge it,” stated Kuzhalnadan. 

“A legal case regarding the property is not a valid justification for refusing the exemption. The rejection letter from the revenue department lacked a legitimate rationale. The company will contest it in court, and based on the district committee's recommendation and the absence of a valid reason for rejection, the court is likely to grant the company eligibility for the exemption. This is systematic corruption, and the Chief Minister spearheaded it.”

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