Surat visit: Kerala leaders may back out

With several members of the 11-member Kerala Legislative Assembly Subject Committee on Local Administration, Rural Development and Housing backing out from visiting Surat to study its solid waste treatment plant that was set up in the wake of plague over two decades ago, chairman of the committee K C Joseph, who is also a Congress leader, said that he would review the entire "study tour" schedule of the committee on Friday.

However, he made it clear that he himself would not be visiting Surat as he had an advance engagement in Kerala on December 12, the day the committee is due to visit Surat.

Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, he said that it was a "study tour" involving legislators to understand about the solid waste treatment plants in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

"But some people in Kerala created a controversy that we are going to study the Gujarat development model. So, some of the legislators have announced to withdraw themselves from visit to Surat. As chairman of the committee, I will review the part of the study tour to Surat and inform the Gujarat counterpart," he said.

When contacted, Surat Municipal Commissioner M K Das said, "I have not received any information about the Kerala legislator's committee cancelling its visit." However, he refused to make any comment on the controversy about the visit in Kerala.

Among 11-member in the committee included Muslim League MLA and State Urban Development Minister Manjalamkuzhi Ali, State Panchayat Minister M K Muneer and Finance Minister K M Mani. Besides, there were seven MLAs — K Achuthan (Congress), C Mammootty (Muslim League), P T A Rahim (Independent), V Sivankutty, P Sreeramakrishnan (CPM), K V Vijayadas (CPM) and E K Vijayan (CPI).

Sreeramakrishnan said that he had cancelled his plan to go to Surat because of "politically motivated news carried by local channels in Kerala about the proposed visit".

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