MLAs V.D. Satheesan and T.N. Prathapan, known for their pro-environment positions on issues involving encroachments and development, are taking their brand of green politics further by launching farming on land freed from encroachment in their respective constituencies.
Mr. Satheesan is pursuing the prospects of undertaking paddy cultivation with public support on the land recovered by the Revenue Department in Puthenvelikkara panchayat in Paravur taluk from controversial godman Santhosh Madhavan.
The Revenue Department had recovered and attached to the land bank 133.86 acres – 95.44 acres in Puthenvelikkara and 38.41 acres in Poyya village in Thrissur district – appropriated by the godman.
“The plan is to launch group farming with the support of the local body concerned and Kudumbasree. We have already taken up the matter with the district collector who is likely to call a meeting of the principal agriculture officer and local body members within two weeks. We plan to start farming by the next season after the monsoon,” Mr. Satheesan told The Hindu.
The project will be launched under ‘Niravu’, a food security programme, introduced by Mr. Satheesan and Mr. Prathapan in their respective Assembly constituencies of Paravur and Kodungalloor.
Mr. Satheesan said all land-related documents had been procured from the village office and it should not be difficult to demarcate it for the project. “The proposal for group farming need not be restricted to land resumed from encroachment but can be extended to more fallow land,” he said.
Hibi Eden, another MLA identified with green politics, has also expressed interest in becoming part of the initiative.
Additional District Magistrate B. Ramachandran said the land recovered by the Revenue Department could be made available for the proposed farming initiative subject to permission of the State government.
Revenue authorities said district collectors were empowered to allot government land for farming under the Kerala Land Utilisation Order, 1967. In fact, it empowers district collectors to assign even privately-owned fallow land for cultivation by farmers’ societies or individual farmers. In both cases, the ownership of land will remain unchanged.
The Kerala Land Utilisation Order was issued by the State government under the Essential Commodities Act 1955. The order was aimed at bringing occupied waste or arable lands likely to be left fallow under cultivation of paddy or other food crops and to prevent the conversion of any land cultivated with food crops for other purposes, except with the written permission of the district collector or revenue divisional officers delegated with the powers of the district collector.
Mr. Prathapan has successfully undertaken paddy and vegetable farming on 12 out of the more than 38 acres recovered from the godman in Poyya village, which falls within the limits of his constituency.
“Farming undertaken with the active support of Kudumbasree members has been a great success and we managed a very good harvest. Though there were some pressure tactics from the agents of the godman, we did not budge. Now we are planning to bring more land under cultivation,” he said.