209 acres in the lake is ‘patta’ land
The Revenue Department, which conducted a survey to demarcate the Vellayani Lake’s boundary as part of the government’s initiative to rejuvenate the lake, has found that 209 acres in the lake was ‘patta’ land, the title deeds of which were given to marginal farmers, residing at Vellayani and adjoining areas.
The survey team, which completed the boundary demarcation work last month, has identified the title-deed owners of the land and has suggested to the government to take possession of the land after providing adequate compensation.
The expanse of the lake, which was spread over 750 hectares in 1926, has now shrunk to 400 acres, apart from the 209 acres of ‘patta’ land, Ramesh, tahsildar, who headed the survey team, told The Hindu. “We have found that around one acre of land has been encroached upon. Steps are being taken to issue notices to 30 persons in this connection,” he said.
District panchayat vice-president Rufus Daniel said now the onus was on the government to carry forward the renovation of the lake. Identifying the boundary of the lake was the first step towards the attempt to protect and restore the water body.
Now that the boundary of the lake was fixed, the government should acquire the 209 acres of the ‘patta’ land and start fencing the lake, he said.
The local body would start a dialogue with title-deed owners to gauge their mood about parting with the land, he said. Earlier, the lake was dewatered twice a year to facilitate sowing of paddy. The process was stopped after complaints of severe ground water depletion affecting the nearby pachayats of Thiruvallam, Kalliyoor, Venganoor, and Nemom, he added.
The renovation programme has been taken up as per the recommendation of the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) and it involves participation of departments such as Revenue, Land Records, Water Resources, and Fisheries, and the Kerala Agricultural University, and Agency for Development of Aquaculture.
The Department of Environment and Climate Change has set aside a sum of Rs.49.4 lakh for carrying out preliminary works, Mr. Rufus said.