Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) boycotted an all-party meeting convened by the government here on Monday to discuss the proposed ‘Emerging Kerala’ business summit alleging that the event is intended only to open the doors for exploitation of the State’s land and mineral resources by private vested interests.
Announcing the decision to boycott the all-party meeting, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said in a statement here that the summit would be nothing but a second edition of the Global Investors’ Meet (GIM) held in 2003 with much fanfare, but did not result in any substantive investment in the State. The attempt of the then United Democratic Front (UDF) government was to allow plunder of mineral resources in the name of GIM. It had given up the move only after a huge public uproar. It did, however, encourage reclamation of paddy lands and watersheds on a large scale and the passage of a law in 2005 to allow diversion of plantation land for other purposes was also done against the backdrop of GIM, he said.
The Opposition leader said the Presidential assent for the Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2005, which sought to permit use of 5 per cent of plantations for tourism and other purposes, would result in misuse of thousands of acres of land by companies such as Kanan Devan and Harrison Malayalam Plantations and the real estate mafia. The Assembly had adopted a resolution during the time of the last government urging the President not to grant assent for the Bill. The ‘Emerging Kerala’ summit could wait till the government clarified whether it was ready to withdraw this ‘black law’ which was intended only to help the estate lobby which had gained huge concessions under the land reform laws.
Equally objectionable was the Cabinet decision to declare all paddy fields reclaimed till 2005 as plain land and the government order giving effect to it. This had resulted in unauthorised reclamation of tens of thousands of acres of paddy fields and watersheds getting regularised.