NDRF wants to set up a unit on land earmarked for distribution to the landless poor

A piece of land, measuring about three acres, situated in remote Eravattur village here leaves the UDF government with a difficult choice between two public welfare proposals. The decision will test its mettle as a responsive government.

The land, located in Koyilandy taluk, has been proposed to be used for two different purposes at the same time.

For one, it has already been surveyed and 116 plots earmarked for distribution to the poor under the Zero Landless Project, the first phase of which was launched by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi recently.

But, a recent communication from Vadakara MP and Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullappally Ramachandran proposes the land for construction of a station to accommodate three companies of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

The district administration, torn in half between the two high-profile public interest proposals, wants the government to make the final call.

“The land was surveyed for the Zero Landless project. We received a communication from the MP’s office identifying this land for the NDRF. We will place the proposal before the government,” District Collector C.A. Latha said.

Responding, Mr. Ramachandran told The Hindu that identifying the land was only part of a proposal to the bring the NDRF, a much-needed presence in the district to combat natural disasters across the high-terrain Western Ghats regions.

“My staff told me that there is such a land belonging to the Government of Kerala available. Land has only been identified and not allotted. As of now, NDRF has to be brought all the way from Arakkonam in the wake of a disaster. Having NDRF presence in north Kerala is a necessity. I have all the support for the proposal from the Chief Minister,” Mr. Ramachandran said over the phone.

An official release from the district’s Public Relations Department on September 11, 2013 quotes Mr. Ramachandran saying the Centre is ready to spare three NDRF companies for Malabar.

Recent landslips in Kavilumpara and Kakkayam were given as reasons. The presence of a CRPF centre in Peruvannamuzhi was also quoted in the official release.

The release quotes from a letter received by the District Collector from Mr. Ramachandran’s office, asking the local administration to ‘consider’ the puromboke land available on Chermala at Perambra-Eravattur village in Vadakara parliamentary constituency for the NDRF.

“The Force will be of use in the calamity-prone high-terrain areas of the district,” the release underlines from the minister’s official communication.

On the other hand, records at the Zero Landless Project office here reveal there is sheer dearth of land in the district for the landless.

Of the total 7,184 applications received in the first phase of the Mission Mode Project, the government could spare only 1,036 plots after surveying 15 villages across Kozhikode taluk. Surveys in Vadakara and Koyilandy taluks of the district yielded 98 and 459 plots, respectively.

In Kozhikode Corporation limits, there are only 131 plots available in Beypore and Nellikode.

Again, in Beypore, the fate of 112 plots surveyed is uncertain.

“Survey was completed when we met with local opposition. We have kept this land aside and will not distribute these plots in the first phase,” K. Balan, Special Officer, Zero Landless Project, Kozhikode, said.

This is the situation when there were 4,311 applications from within the corporation precincts alone.

Availability of land in rural Kozhikode is none the better, thanks to the rapid urbanization of the panchayats.

Of the total 2,893 applications received, the government could accommodate only 592 requests for land under the project. The project lost 283 plots at Ulliyeri in Koyilandy taluk to a local school.

Lands identified include surplus, puromboke and bought-in (those got through revenue recovery proceedings) plots.

“Now, we have to find land for the second phase of the project. Flats can be constructed to accommodate more people. Besides there are about 20,000 plots in Kasargod for people willing to go there from other districts. It is an option,” Mr. Balan suggests.

  • Administration has identified 116 plots for distribution

  • Centre ready to spare three NDRF companies for Malabar