The Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU) would not permit any more conversion of paddy fields and wetlands in the State, said M.V. Govindan Master, State general secretary of the union.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, the KSKTU leader alleged that the reported move to set up an international airport in 350 acres of paddy field in Aranmula was nothing but hollow promises of the State-supported land mafia in the name of development.

He alleged that the United Democratic Front Government was sabotaging the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act enacted by the previous Left Democratic Front Government. The dissenting notes raised by ‘Green’ MLAs in Congress as well as the senior Congress leader, V.M.Sudheeran, against it was a welcome move to protect the State’s interests and to check handing over of the Government’s land bank to real estate groups and multi-national companies, he added.

Mr. Govindan Master said KSKTU was for providing land to all landless poor people in the State. The Government should also provide not less than one acre each to all tribal families in the State.

He said there was no shortage of land in the State for distribution among the landless poor. Government should acquire all those private plantations that have expired the lease period, besides strictly treating possession of all private land bank exceeding the limit of 15 acres a person as excess land, he said.

The KSKTU leader said the wetlands and paddy fields (puncha) have been acting as major water reservoirs across the State and their conversion have badly depleted the ground water table, and not to speak of the pollution of wells even in villages.

He alleged that the Emerging Kerala had given licence to convert verdant forests into concrete jungles, posing a serious threat to the so-called ‘god’s own country’.

He said KSKTU would join hands with like-minded groups to launch a massive campaign to protect the remaining paddy land and wetland in the State.

He said the Government should identify and acquire those excess land allegedly amassed using foreign funds as well as money allegedly supplied by certain terrorist outfits in different parts of the State.

K.Ananthagopan, Communist Party of India (Marxist) district secretary, and K.P.Udayabhanu, KSKTU general convener, were also present.

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