With legal hurdles in land acquisition dragging the proposed electronics and hardware park at Amballur near Piravom, it has been decided to exempt wetland from the 350 acres identified for the project.

This will effectively cut down the extent of land by more than half to 125 acres. Anoop Jacob, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies and Piravom MLA, said the notification for land acquisition would be out shortly.

“We have been bumping into hurdles as a good portion of the land identified for the project fell under the provisions of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act. So, we have now decided to go ahead with the project on the land other than wetland,” Mr. Jacob told The Hindu.

The Minister said a decision to appoint a special officer for the project had been reached at a meeting held by the Chief Minister. The proposal will be shortly placed before the Cabinet for ratification. “The appointment of a special officer will definitely give a fillip to the project,” the Minister hoped.

It is believed that the proposed move to relax the norms of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act will benefit the project as well. The Cabinet recently appointed a five-member Cabinet sub-committee to recommend the required relaxations in the Act for public cause. At present, it is close to impossible to secure permission legally to fill up wet land.

Mr. Jacob, however, was non-committal about such a possibility. “We will go ahead with the project on the land other than wetland for the time being. The scope of any possible relaxation in the Act can be explored as and when it comes,” he said.

Amballur panchayat authorities, however, are aghast at the decision to exempt wetland from the project. Panchayat president K.F. Kuriakose said the whole of 350 acres initially identified had been lying fallow for about 35 years.

The Nelvayal Samrakshana Samithi (paddy field monitoring committee) of the panchayat had undertaken a study and submitted a report to the Collector drawing attention to this. “The project has the full support of the people here and they are now very much disappointed,” said Mr. Kuriakose who had in the past petitioned the government about the delay.

The project has been in limbo for close to two years now. The State Level Approval Committee had once rejected the proposal for reclamation of the land on the ground that it was identified as paddy field in revenue records.

The proposed world-class project is expected to draw investments to the tune of Rs. 6,000 crore through manufacturing and assembling of electronic equipment ranging from television, refrigerator, washing machine, computer to mobile handsets besides attracting companies in the semiconductor and electronic components sector.

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