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State to provide land for ISRO institute

Special Correspondent



The Chief Minister says the land will be given free of cost.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Government on Thursday promised to provide land free of cost to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for setting up the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram district.

The Government conveyed the promise to the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) authorities at a high-level conference convened here in the background of a controversy over a plot of land purchased by ISRO from a private party near Ponmudi.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who briefed presspersons on the decisions of the conference, said that 200 acres required for the Institute would be provided in the eastern part of Thiruvananthapuram district as desired by the VSSC authorities.

The offer had been welcomed by the VSSC authorities, and it was up to them to take a final decision on the matter.

The Chief Minister parried questions on whether an inquiry would be ordered into the sale of government land to ISRO by the private party, though he stated that the deal was illegal. (It is understood that the Government would take possession of the land.)

He said that construction of an helipad on the land was undertaken by ISRO. He did not reply directly to questions on the expenditure incurred on it.

Mr. Achuthanandan said that the campaign by the Opposition over the deal would only result in the State losing the Institute. So, it should withdraw from continuing the campaign.

He said the present situation was the result of the United Democratic Front Government altering the provisions of the law while replacing the Kerala Forests (Vesting and Management of Ecologically Fragile Lands) Ordinance, issued during the administration of the previous Left Democratic Front Government, with an Act in 2003. The Act excluded tea and other estates from the purview of the law. The amendment led to much land reverting to private parties. The present Government would take steps to rectify the situation.

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