3.5 acres set aside for zero landless scheme

The ambitious Malabar Cultural Village project in Kozhikode has run into trouble with the land earmarked for it being taken away for the Zero Landless Citizen Scheme.

The district administration had identified 3.5 acres at Beypore for the cultural village, a project of the Department of Culture. K.V. Mohankumar, the then the District Collector, who had identified the land had also then announced that steps were being taken to transfer the land, which was with the Revenue Department, to the Department of Culture.

Culture Minister K.C. Joseph had also gone on record saying, while inaugurating a theatre festival here, that a "cultural village" would be set up in Kozhikode if land was made available.

The project was promised to be first of its kind in Kerala and a merging point of the traditional with the modern in the region. The project appeared to have taken off when Rs.50 lakh was allotted for it in the budget.

Basheer museum

The land chosen for it in Beypore was found congenial since the district administration also had planned to build a museum for the writer Vaikom Muhammed Basheer. It was thought the Basheer museum project, for which Rs.50 lakh was already available, could be merged with the cultural village.

The fate of the project now looks uncertain. The total estimated cost for completing the first phase of the cultural village was Rs.24 crore as per a proposal submitted by the District Collector and architect R.K. Ramesh, who has been appointed the special officer of the project. The project proposal was submitted to the Cultural Affairs Minister on February 15.

As per the project proposal, the village was to have a performance zone for native art forms, museums and galleries showcasing art, an open-air stage, mini-theatres, and residential accommodation and creative workspaces for artistes and writers.

Beypore is one of the two villages within the city limits where land has been identified for the Zero Landless Citizen Scheme. The official in charge of the scheme confirmed to The Hindu that the land had been since earmarked for distribution among 112 landless people. He said the land was taken for the project since there was no communication that it was already marked for any other government project though unofficially there were reports it was chosen for the cultural village.

“The beneficiaries of the zero landless scheme who had been chosen to get this land in Beypore have been officially told about it. Now the government cannot go back on its commitments,” he said.

What it means is that the process for finding land for the Malabar Cultural Village has to start all over again.

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