Popular convention warns against harmful impact of land conversion

Lack of commitment on the part of the Union and State governments to protection of land is a major threat faced by the country today, Kashmirilal, national general convener of the Delhi-based Joint Action Council against Foreign Investment, has said.

He was inaugurating a popular convention on paddy land and wetland protection organised by the Thiruvaranmula Paithruka Grama Karma Samiti (TPGKS) at Aranmula on Sunday.

Mr. Kashmirilal said the threat to drinking water in the event of conversion of vast expanse of paddy land and wetlands at Aranmula was akin to the threat posed by endosulfan in Kasaragod. He said the drinking water crisis would become acute once paddy land and wetlands were converted in the name of development.

He called upon villagers to intensify their struggle for drinking water and paddy land and wetland protection in the backdrop of the anti-environment activities of corporate giants and the land lobby.

Presiding over the meet, Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi chairman P. Gopinathan Nair alleged that the controversial airport project at Aranmula was a project of invasion by global commercial forces. Foreign invaders in a new garb were behind the ‘land trade’ at Aranmula in the name of the private airport project, he alleged.

Mr. Nair said the authorities should also keep in mind that the Five Year Plan prepared by experts did not include the Aranmula airport project in it.

He said the Gandhian-model non-violent agitation, including satyagraha, still had the strength to fight against multinational monopolies.

Scheduled Caste Joint Action Council general secretary Thazhava Sahadevan called upon the people to prepare for a mass movement, above all religious, caste, regional, and political differences, to protect the land, agriculture, and places of worship.

P.B. Suresh, Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha district secretary, said the Scheduled Caste people who constituted the backbone of agriculture would be the first forced to vacate the land if the airport project materialised.

Valsamma Mathew, national council member of the Mahila Sanghom affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPI); A.K. Muraleedhara Kurup, CPI district committee member; K. Haridas, TPGKS president and P.R. Shaji, general convener; and Pradeep Ayroor, Prakriti Samrakshana Souhrudavedi convener, spoke.

The convention constituted a committee chaired by Kummanam Rajashekharan to undertake a campaign against the airport project in Delhi. The committee would exert pressure on the Union Ministries of Environment, Defence, and Home against giving final clearance to the project, Mr. Rajashekharan said.

The convention also decided to launch a mass movement, with the support of various socio-cultural organisations, political parties, and other people’s action groups, to protect the paddy land, wetlands, and natural streams at Aranmula.

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