Special Correspondent

Company has sold part of the leased land: VS

Government will recover such stretches of land

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has said the government will recover from Harrisons Malayalam “thousands of acres of land held by it illegitimately after the expiry of its lease rights over the properties.”

Briefing journalists about the decisions taken at a meeting of the Cabinet on Thursday, he said the company had also sold part of the land leased to it by the government. The government would initiate focused action to recover such stretches of land also, he said.

“It will be done as soon as possible. Surveys and verifications are needed in the case of some stretches. In clear cases, the recovery will be done immediately,” he said.

Mr. Achuthanandan said the price of rice was coming down in the open market following the steps initiated by the government last week. The Food and Civil Supplies Department opened special ‘rice shops’ in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode selling ‘matta’ rice at Rs.14 a kg and raw rice at Rs.11.50 a kg. Further, over 2,500 outlets of Supplyco in the State were selling rice at a price subsidised to the extent of Rs.1 a kg. The Chief Minister said the reason for the rise in price of rice could be directly attributed to the drastic cut in Central allocation of ration rice to the State. Earlier, the State used to receive 1,10,000 tonnes of rice annually from the Centre, but the quantity had now come down to 23,000 tonnes a year.

He said he had taken the issue up with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to New Delhi earlier this week and had sought the restoration of the allocation to the earlier level. The Prime Minister asked him to talk to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar also.

Mr. Pawar explained that the present problem in Kerala was due to deficiencies in the rice procurement exercise in Andhra Pradesh this season and shortage of railway wagons for transporting rice. Mr. Pawar promised to release a special allocation for the State, Mr. Achuthanandan said. Another decision of the Cabinet meeting was to acquire land for the expansion of Karipur airport. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) should consider the cost involved in the acquisition as the State’s equity share in the airport.

The Cabinet further decided to sanction two M.Pharm. courses at the Government Pharmacy College in Kozhikode, one in pharmacology and the other in pharmaceutical practice.

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