The Communist Party of India (Marxist) as well as the farm workers’ and peasants’ organisations attached to has launched a land struggle in Aranmula, protesting against the delay on the part of the Government in acquiring the excess land there, on Tuesday.
Launching the land struggle, Dr T.M. Thomas Issac, former Finance Minister and the party central committee member, said the party would strongly oppose any move to convert the Aranmula Puncha (paddy land) in the name of a private airport project.
Inaugurating a march, jointly launched by the Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU) and the Kerala Karshaka Sanghom at Aranmula on Tuesday, Dr Issac said the previous Left Democratic Front Government had given an in-principle clearance for setting up a private airport in Aranmula, only after strictly complying with the prevailing laws of the land. Even this conditional permission should not have been made in the case of Aranmula, taking into consideration its disastrous socio-environmental implications, the former Finance Minister has said.
The former Chief Minister, V.S. Achuthanandan, too had made a similar statement while addressing a mammoth rally against the airport project in Aranmula, earlier. Mr Achuthanandan had blamed the then Principal Secretary to Industries department, T. Balakrishnan, for issuing a notification declaring a large extent of land spread across the three villages of Aranmula, Mallappuzhasserry and Kidangannur as industrial area allegedly “with out taking the Government into confidence.’’
Ordinance in the making
Dr Issac said an anti-people ordinance giving free hand for conversion of paddy land in an industrial area and permission to keep unlimited extent of land was awaiting the consent of the Governor. Once the ordinance came into force, the District Collector’s order for acquiring the excess land at Aranmula would become null and void, he added.
The Revenue Minister, Adoor Prakash, says that the District Collector has already issued order to acquire the excess land identified at Aranmula. Ironically, none other than the Congress(I)-led United Progressive Alliance Government at the Centre had given various clearances for the proposed airport project, in scant disregard to various laws of the land, the CPI(M) leader alleged.
Dr Issac alleged that the promoters of the proposed Aranmula airport claimed to have obtained various Central clearances for the project at a time when the Union Government was yet to give clearances for the much sought-after Vizhinjom project.
Excess land in Aranmula
The former Finance Minister said the Government should acquire the illegally converted excess paddy land in Aranmula for distribution among the homeless poor with out any further delay. The remaining excess paddy land should be distributed among the farm workers, he added.
The CPI(M), KSKTU and the Karshaka Sanghom workers have also started a satyagraha at the Aranmula Puncha on Tuesday.
Dr Issac said not less than 250 workers would take part in the satyagraha on a daily basis and it would continue till January 8. A. Padmakumar, and K.M. Gopi, CPI(M) leaders, will lead the satyagraha.
Dr Issac further warned that the protesters would start occupying the excess land by erecting huts from January 8, if the Government failed to acquire the excess land from the land grabbers by then.
He said steps should also be taken to launch cultivation in the Aranmula Puncha after clearing the partially converted natural streams.
Dr Issac, accompanied by K. Ananthagopan, CPI(M) district secretary; R. Unnikrishna Pillai, State committee member; Omalloor Sankaran, Karshaka Sanghom district president; A.P. Udayabhanu, KSKTU district secretary; P.K. Kumaran, A. Padmakumar, former MLAs; R. Ajayakumar, Malayalappuzha Mohan, and M.S. Rajendran, CITU leaders, led the march to Aranmula Puncha from Iykara junction in Aranmula, earlier.