Kerala’s move to amend land rules draws flak

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 4 (IANS) The Kerala government’s move to amend the land assignment rules to regularise encroachments in the hilly areas of the state has come under fire from several quarters.

The amendment, brought in through a gazette notification on Monday, will help regularise occupation of government land, subject to a cut-off date of June 1, 2005 and a maximum of four acres.

People possessing land but not a legal title in hilly districts like Idukki, Wayanad and Pathanamthitta are expected to benefit.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said successive governments were trying to act in the matter, though it got delayed for various reasons.

However, senior party legislator and state Congress vice president V.D. Satheesan on Tuesday reacted sharply and said the decision was taken without discussion.

“This order came as a surprise and a decision that defies logic. This issue was never discussed either in our party or in the United Democratic Front. Under no circumstances can this be allowed to be implemented,” said Satheesan.

Leader of the Opposition, V.S. Achuthanandan, said the order will only benefit resort and quarry mafia who had usurped revenue and forest land.

Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash was expected to explain the decision to state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran.

Former Idukki Lok Sabha member and Congress leader P.T. Thomas said he was shocked to hear about the new order.

“A detailed study should be conducted to find out the implications of this move. We will then know who benefits,” said Thomas.

Meanwhile, the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday will discuss the new order threadbare as more than 500 cases of land encroachment in these hilly districts, in which the state government is a party, are expected to come up in the Kerala high court shortly.

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