Special Correspondent

Talks will be held next week: Rajendran

Says government is not ignoring the stir

Steps taken to resume excess land with HML

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan will hold discussions with the poor agitating for land at Chengara next week, Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran told the Assembly on Thursday.

Replying to a submission by Adoor Prakash (Congress), the Minister said the government was not ignoring the agitation; it was for giving land to the landless.

Mr. Rajendran said the government was taking steps to resume land held by Harrisons Malayalam Limited (HML) in excess of its entitlement.

A survey to identify the excess land was under way at Aryankavu and Thenmala. All cases related to the company had been transferred to the Vythiri Land Tribunal.

Government assurance

Replying to a calling-attention motion by V. Surendran Pillai, the Minister said the government would expedite the rehabilitation of people staying in relief camps following sea erosion.

Land acquisition for rehabilitating 726 families in Thiruvananthapuram would be completed by the end of April. About 4,800 people had been identified as living near erosion-prone areas. They were proposed to be rehabilitated.

In response to a submission by P. Krishnaprasad, Forest Minister Benoy Viswom said the government was considering the question of allowing people who had received titles to revenue land to cut down teak and rosewood trees on the land after remitting a specified sum. Committees had been formed to decide on cutting of old trees that posed danger to life.

Trade unions’ demand

Staff Reporter writes from Pathanamthitta: The confederation of trade unions of plantation workers at Kumbazha Estate of HML at Chengara near Konni has warned of retaliation against the Sadhu Jana Vimochana Samyukta Vedi (SJVSV) activists who “illegally” encroached upon the rubber plantation for the past seven months.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, trade union leaders V.R. Shaji (CITU), S.Biji (KPEU-CITU), Suresh Babu (BMS), S.Bijumon (ESUSI), C.K. Divakaran (AITUC), Koshy (INTUC) and Unnikrishnan (PLC), said the plantation workers would forcibly occupy the houses of encroachers in different parts of the State if they failed to vacate the estate before March 20.

They said the plantation workers were maintaining self-restraint all these months giving due respect to the Kerala High Court directive in this regard.

Charge against vedi

They alleged that a majority of vedi encroachers had their own land and home in different parts of the State.

The SJVSV leadership lured its workers to Chengara promising them five acres of government land and financial assistance, they alleged.

The leaders alleged that the SJVSV leadership collected Rs.3,000 each from each encroacher towards registration fee by spreading misleading propaganda on allotment of government land to them.

They said that the HML plantations had worker strength of 30,000 and they would be forced to pursue their own course of agitation if the vedi failed to vacate the estate before March 20.