Plots of 3 cents each to be given to the landless in Avoli panchayat.

A consensus was reached over the usage of 19.45 acres of excess land in Avoli panchayat, with stakeholders making reluctant compromises.

The dispute was resolved at a meeting chaired by Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan at the conference hall of the Poverty Alleviation Unit at the civil station on Tuesday.

The excess land had been a bone of contention between Muvattupuzha Janasabha upholding the cause of landless in Muvattupuzha taluk and the Avoli panchayat authorities.

The meeting decided to distribute 16.50 acres out of the 19.45 acres in plots of three cents each among the landless within the limits of Avoli panchayat. The rest of the land will be allotted to the panchayat for the proposed farm and seed development centre of the Kerala Agriculture University (KAU). Already, 30 landless from Chengara had been allotted land in the panchayat.

Opposing stands

Initially, the Muvattupuzha Janasabha, represented by its president John Ambattu and secretary Jose Paul, insisted on utilising the entire 19.45 acres for distribution among the landless in Muvattupuzha taluk and to find other land for the proposed KAU project.

However, the Avoli panchayat authorities led by its president Mary Baby fiercely resisted the suggestion, saying that the proposed project was vital for a predominantly agrarian population and that the panchayat had no other source of income to buy land for future developmental activities.

Preference sought

The panchayat authorities also wanted the landless from within their limits to be given preference in the distribution of land rather than to consider the landless in the entire Muvattupuzha taluk. They also alleged that ineligible people had crept into the list of close to 3,000 persons who had applied for land in the taluk. Mr. Paul has warned of stern agitation if the government backtracked on its promise to identify and distribute excess land in the district among the landless within six months.

District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareed; Joseph Vazhakkan, MLA; District Panchayat President Eldhose Kunnappillil; former MP P.C. Thomas; Muvattupuzha municipal chairman U.R. Babu; and representatives of various local bodies, and revenue officials were present.

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