Kerala opposition stage walkout over Munnar land row

December 17th, 2008 - 4:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 17 (IANS) The Congress-led opposition in Kerala Wednesday walked out of the assembly after terming as false the Left government’s claims of having recovered 1,662 acres of land in the picturesque hill town of Munnar last year. The government had promised that a part of the land seized would be distributed among the landless.Seeking leave for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue, Congress legislator V.D. Satheesan asked Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran to furnish details of the 1,662 acres seized in Munnar.

In May last year, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had formed a three-member team to demolish all illegal constructions in the hill station and within a month’s time, 22 resorts were razed and 120 acres of land were seized from the owners.

Achuthanandan had then announced that his government would distribute the seized land to the landless and prepare a new master plan for Munnar without disturbing the environment.

But Satheesan alleged that a majority of the land seized was already with the government.

“Please come out with the list of the land seized in Munnar. Our inquiries have revealed that most of the land that was seized was already government land, of which most are forests that cannot be even touched by the government and cannot be distributed,” Satheesan said.

Rajendran, defending the government’s actions, said the operations in Munnar were carried out with the cooperation of both the revenue and forest departments and that the process to distribute the land had been initiated.

“We have now started processing the application forms from those who have applied to be included in the list when the land is distributed. Please don’t try to thwart this attempt that we are doing,” pleaded Rajendran.

When Speaker K. Radhakrishnan denied leave for the motion, leader of opposition Oommen Chandy told Achuthanandan that the announcement of having seized 1,662 acres of land at Munnar was false.

“We used the Right to Information Act and the Idukki district collector said that only 310 acres of land has been seized from Munnar. He also said that of the 310 acres, 290 acres of land cannot be touched because its owner has obtained a stay order from the High Court. This leaves you with just 20 acres of land to be distributed,” said Chandy.

“The biggest joke of this land seizure is that you can’t even distribute the 20 acres of land because the entire 310 acres of land, according to land records since 1976, is government land. So we and the people of the state wish to know about the exact land that you have seized in Munnar,” Chandy said before leading the entire opposition out of the house.

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