Thiruvananthapuram/Kollam (Kerala) [India], February 19 (ANI): Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala on Friday alleged corruption in a Rs 5000-crore deal the Kerala government is said to have signed to open up deep-sea fishing in the Kerala waters to EMCC International Pvt. Ltd, an American multinational company.
During the Kollam stretch of his ‘Aishwarya Kerala Yatra’, Chennithala levelled corruption charges against fisheries minister J Mercykutty Amma and industries minister E P Jayarajan of being the chief conspirators of the deep sea deal.
“The memorandum of understanding (MoU) of Rs 5000 crore project was signed at the Global Investors Meet Ascent 2020 in Kochi. The project involves fishing with 400 deep-sea trawlers, five mother fishing vessels and nets that can shift to the bottom of the sea. Supplementary agreements in this regard were signed between the Government of Kerala and EMCC International last week,” he said.
Chennithala alleged that large-scale corruption has occurred behind this project.
“Minister of Fisheries J Mersykutty Amma had discussions with EMCC in New York in 2018. Following that meeting, the outline of the plan was prepared and in order to implement this plan, the Fisheries Policy was announced in 2019, with a change in the Fisheries Policy. The change in fisheries policy after the project was planned raises suspicions. The Government of Kerala has announced the Fisheries Policy in 2019,” he said.
“In a letter to EP Jayarajan, Minister for Industries, EMCC stated that the MoU was entered into under paragraph 2.9 of the said policy. It is hereby made clear that the said provision was included on the basis of the meeting of the Minister of Fisheries,” he added.
According to the Opposition leader, paragraph 2.9 of the Fisheries Policy says, “multi-day fishing vessels in the open sea will be encouraged to shift the current fishing pressure from the over-exploited continental shelf area to the continental slope area.”
“The company was then invited to the Ascent 2020 event in Kochi and signed a memorandum of understanding there. The MoU was signed with EMCC International (India) Pvt, a subsidiary of EMCC America. This company was formed only two years ago. The capital is just Rs 10 lakh,” he alleged.
“No global tenders have been called for the project. According to the agreement 400 mechanized trawlers and five mother vessels will be purchased. If this agreement come into force the livelihood of the traditional fishermen will be disrupted and the fisheries of Kerala coast will be plundered,” he added.
He also demanded an enquiry in the project. (ANI)
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2 criminals shot dead in encounter with UP STF in Prayagraj
Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh) [India], March 4 (ANI): Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) has shot dead two criminals in an encounter here in Arail.
They were involved in the 2013 murder case of the then deputy jailer Anil Kumar Tyagi, at the behest of gangsters Munna Bajrangi and Mukhtar Ansari, police said.
The two criminals who have been shot dead in the encounter late on Wednesday night have been identified as Vakeel Pandey alias Rajeev Pandey and HS Amjad alias Pintu. They were the members of the Mafia Munna Bajrangi gang and the notorious sharpshooter Dilip Mishra gang.
“Two criminals died in an encounter at Arail in Prayagraj. They have been identified as Vakeel Pandey alias Raju Pandey (carrying a reward of Rs 50,000) and Amjad alias Pintu. They had killed deputy jailer Anil Tyagi in Varanasi in 2013,” Navendu Singh, CO, Uttar Pradesh STF told ANI.
Both the criminals hailed from the Bhadohi district of Uttar Pradesh.
A 30 mm and a 9 mm pistol, live cartridge and a motorcycle have been recovered from the incident spot.
Both the criminals were in the district of Prayagraj with the motive of killing elite/political people, police said. (ANI)
Money laundering case: ED summons Ebrahim Kunju for interrogation on Mar 22
Kochi (Kerala) [India], March 4 (ANI): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has served a notice to former Public Works Minister and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) MLA VK Ebrahim Kunju, asking him to appear before its Kochi office on March 22 for interrogation in connection with a money laundering case.
The ED has also asked him to produce the details of his income and assets for verification.
The notice was served on Kunju in connection with the alleged deposit of around Rs 10 crore into the account of IUML mouthpiece, Chandrika daily in 2016. The money was allegedly credited through two banks following demonetisation. (ANI)
BJP’s CEC to meet today, likely to finalise first list of candidates for upcoming Assembly polls
New Delhi [India], March 4 (ANI): The Central Election Committee of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will meet on Thursday and is likely to finalise its first list of candidates for Assembly polls in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda, and other senior party leaders will attend the meeting which is scheduled to be held in the evening today at party headquarters here.
BJP chief Dilip Ghosh and party’s Central Observer for West Bengal Kailash Vijayvargiya arrived in Delhi on Wednesday to attend the CEC meeting.
On Wednesday, Nadda, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his Cabinet colleague Himanta Biswa Sarma met Shah at his residence here to discuss strategy for Assam Assembly elections ahead of the CEC meeting.
The polling in four states and Puducherry will be held between March 27 and April 29. The counting of votes will be held on May 2.
As many as 18.68 crore electors will cast vote at 2.7 lakh polling stations in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, said Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora.
A total of 824 assembly constituencies shall be going for polls in four states–Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam– and the Union Territory of Puducherry. (ANI)
Odisha government claims no loss of life in Similipal forest fire
Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], March 4 (ANI): The Odisha government on Wednesday has claimed that there was no loss of life in the Similipal National Park fire, which has been raging for around a week and continues to rage the forest area, according to Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).
The statement came after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the fire situation at Similipal National Park a day after Union Environment, forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar sought a report on the devastating fire at the Park, one of the major biospheres in the country.
According to CMO’s official release, at a high-level meeting with senior government officials, CM Patnaik instructed officials to be vigilant and take all precautionary measures to combat the forest fire.
The Chief Minister said that “Shimlipal is not only a treasure trove of Odisha or India but also an invaluable asset of the whole world, CMO said in a release.
Additional Chief Secretary Department of Forests and Environment, Dr Mona Sharma informed that the blaze has been brought under control.
Sharma said that no casualties were reported so far and standard operating procedures have been issued to control the fire and no major trees have been damaged.
She also informed that the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Wildlife is monitoring the situation and preventive steps at the Spot.
Earlier on Tuesday Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has tweeted that “Distressed to learn about the forest fires raging in Simlipal Tiger Reserve from social media platforms. Request the urgent attention of Union Minister for Environment & Forest, Prakash Javadekar and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on this alarming situation at one of the most important biosphere reserves of the country.”
Later Union Minister Prakash Javadekar informed through a tweet that “he orders officers to take immediate action to report the issue.” (ANI)
SC to hear petitions by women Army officers over permanent commission
New Delhi [India], March 4 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Thursday will hear a batch of petitions on a plea by women officers in the Indian Army who had approached the Apex Court over non-implementation of its order to grant them a permanent commission.
The petitions demand direction that contempt proceedings be initiated against those who had allegedly failed in their duty to comply with the apex court’s earlier judgement.
The top court earlier ordered that the permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Indian Army in service, irrespective of their years of service. It also ordered that after the judgement of Delhi High Court, Centre should grant permanent commission to women officers.
Last year, the SC had ordered the Central government to grant Permanent Commission (PC) to them in the Army’s non-combat support units on par with their male counterparts.
A bench of the Apex Court, headed by Justice Dr D Y Chandrahud, and also comprising Justice M R Shah, earlier fixed the matter for a final hearing to February 24.
One such petition was filed by one woman officer, through her lawyer, Chitrangda Rastravara and Advocate on Record (AOR) Archana Pathak Dave, before the Supreme Court seeking its immediate direction to implement its earlier order.
The Army, however, claimed that out of 615 women officers, there are 422 who are eligible and found fit for PC in the Army. But in reality, only 277 out of 422 have been granted PC and the remaining number i.e. 145 are those officers who are either non-optees or whose result is withheld due to medical and administrative reasons, 193 officers have been denied PC, Chitrangda said.
According to her petition, this figure of 422 is a figure only for good optics and does not truly portray the actual number. Thus, finding those officers who are non-optees fit for PC and denying the same to optees smacks of gross arbitrariness. (ANI)
ED violating model code of conduct by summoning KIIFB officials: Kerala CM
Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], March 4 (ANI): Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan accused Enforcement Directorate (ED) of summoning Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) officials and said it is violating the Model Code of Conduct.
In a letter written to the Chief Election Commissioner, the Chief Minister said that the ED summoned KIIFB officials as per the political interests of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Hence, it is violating the Model Code of Conduct.
“The EC should take action against the investigating agency for violating the code of conduct,” the Chief Minister said.
Nirmala Sitharaman’s remark on February 28 during a BJP Yatra is evidence of the political use of investigative agencies, the letter read.
Recently, Sitharaman accused the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government of giving all the budget money to KIIFB.
While Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac yesterday said that there was no violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) in an alleged case of external borrowings of KIIFB through Masala Bonds.
“There is absolutely no violation of FEMA as we have received No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Reserve Bank of India (RBI),” said Thomas Isaac while speaking to ANI.
Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a case against KIIFB for external borrowings through Masala Bonds without the permission of the union government.
Yesterday, ED sent a notice to KM Abraham, CEO of KIIFB and asked him to appear before its Kochi office on March 5. It also sent a notice to Deputy Managing Director Vikramjit Singh and asked him to appear before it on March 4.
KIIFB was constituted by the state government as a corporate body. In November 2020, it had initiated an investigation into the Masala bonds of the KIIFB, as per the sources.
Recently, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government of giving all the budget money to KIIFB. (ANI)
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