Kerala opposition asks Achuthanandan to solve Chengara land row

September 26th, 2008 - 3:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 26 (IANS) A group of Kerala opposition members Friday met Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and asked him to resolve the 13-month-old dispute between landless tribals who have occupied a rubber estate in Pathanamthitta district and the plantation workers. Since August 2007, about 5,000 landless tribals have been staying in tents pitched in the Kumbazha rubber estate of Harrisons Malayalam Ltd (HML) in Chengara, about 120 km from here.

The tribals, who have formed an organisation called the Sadhu Jana Vimocha Samyukta Vedi (SJVSV), are demanding that the government give the land to them. They are being opposed by the 170 families of plantation workers who have lost their livelihood due to the occupation of the estate.

The opposition has asked the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led government to hold talks with the plantation workers as well as the SJVSV to end the dispute over the land.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Achuthanandan, Opposition leader Oommen Chandy said: “He appears to be serious about ending the dispute and has agreed to call a meeting of the two sides soon. We have expressed our full support for the talks, We want to see the issue sorted out amicably.”

Chandy said he and some other opposition members had visited Chengara Thursday and talked to the warring factions.

“We have asked Achuthanandan to see that all those who are eligible to get land from the government be given that according to the norms. Likewise, those workers who have lost their job because of the dispute should also be compensated,” he said.

T.S. Achuthan, a SJVSV member, said: “We will not vacate the land until the government allots five acres to us as well as Rs.50,000 for each family, as was promised more than a year ago.”

Earlier this month, plantation workers staged a protest march to the place where the tribals are staying but policemen stopped them from entering the area. Tension now prevails in the area and it has been cordoned off by the police.

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