Kerala Court Rejects Graft Complaint Against CM Over Sand Mining From Alappuzha Coast

A Kerala court has rejected a complaint alleging corruption by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and various officials back in 2019 in connection with a government order permitting removal of sand from the Thottappally coastal area in Alappuzha district.

Enquiry Commissioner and Special Judge, Kottayam, M Manoj dismissed the complaint saying that prima facie none of the offences, under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC, as alleged against the CM and others in the complaint were disclosed.

“The averments in the complaint do not disclose any offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 or under any other law.

“The complicity of the respondents in any of the alleged offences are not prima facie made out and disclosed as per the averments in the complaint.” the judge said in his order dated February 7.

The complaint was moved by the President of the Karimanal Khanana Virudha Ekopana Samithi alleging that atomic mineral sand extracted from Thottappally coastal area in the name of Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML) was illegally supplied to the Cochin Minerals and Rutile Ltd (CMRL).

The complaint, seeking a vigilance enquiry or probe, also claimed that due to the alleged illegal mineral sand mining, the state suffered a loss of over Rs 2,841 crore.

The complainant had further alleged that the government order (GO) permitting KMML to mine the sand was issued on instructions that came from the Chief Minister’s Office.

Rejecting the allegations in the complaint, the court said that the government order under challenge was issued in May 2019, following the great floods in the state in 2018, in public interest and to save the life and property of people from flood situations.

“On consideration of the averments in the complaint and materials produced by the complainant it is found that there is no material to link CMRL to the issuance of the impugned GO passed to mitigate the flood situation in Kuttanad, the excavation of atomic mineral sand by the KMML pursuant to the said order and the alleged siphoning off the mineral sand to CMRL.

“Thus, there is no material produced by the complainant which prima facie discloses that the atomic mineral sand excavated by KMML from Thottappally pursuant to the impugned government order was illegally diverted to CMRL,” the court said.

It also pointed out that the Kerala High Court had upheld the validity of the government order.

The court also said that the complainant was the petitioner in the plea challenging the GO in the High Court and at that time he had not contended that the atomic mineral sand excavated from Thottappally and permitted to be removed by KMML was being illegally siphoned off to CMRL.

It also noted that the complainant made the present allegations following the ruling of an Interim Settlement Board with regard to payments made by CMRL to the CM’s daughter’s firm.

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Last year, a Malayalam daily reported that CMRL had paid a total of Rs 1.72 crore to Veena, daughter of Kerala CM, between 2017 and 2020.

The news report cited the ruling of an interim board for settlement and said CMRL previously had an agreement with Veena’s IT firm for consultancy and software support services.

It had alleged that though no service was rendered by her firm, the amount was paid on a monthly basis “due to her relationship with a prominent person.”

This year, another report cited findings by the Registrar of Companies (ROC) against Veena’s firm.

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