Special Correspondent

Law proposed to punish encroachers with imprisonment

Filing of contradictory affidavits questioned

Two lakh poor people to get houses: Minister

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Assembly witnessed noisy scenes and a boycott by the Opposition over the Golf Club takeover issue on Thursday.

The Opposition walked out of the House in protest against Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran not clarifying the government position regarding the affidavits filed by government secretaries before the High Court in the case filed by the Trivandrum Golf Club challenging government takeover of the Club.

The Opposition said that conflicting affidavits had been filed by the Principal Secretary (Revenue) and Deputy Secretary (Law) before the Court. The Minister should state which affidavit reflected the official stand of the government. The filing of contradictory affidavits by government secretaries showed that the Ministry had forfeited its collective responsibility.

Mr. Rajendran, who was replying to the debate on the demands for grants for Land Revenue, Relief on Account of Natural Calamities and District Administration and Miscellaneous, said the government was determined to take over the Golf Club. It would take all steps needed for that, though it had suffered a temporary setback following intervention of the court. It would file a fresh affidavit before the Court, and it had time up to June 30 to do it.

The Minister announced that the government would bring in a law that entailed imprisonment for persons who encroached on government land. Provision would also be there for punishment of officials conniving with encroachers.

It would also oppose the Bill brought by the previous government for allowing construction of hotels and other facilities in plantations. Though the Assembly had passed the Bill during the UDF rule, the President had not given assent for the Bill. The present government had written to the Centre that it did not agree with conversion of plantation areas, as that would lead to misuse of exemptions granted under the Land Reforms Act.

Mr. Rajendran said the government would take strong action against land mafia who sidetracked the land ceilings under the Act.

The Vigilance and Inspection wing of the Revenue Department would be strengthened to check irregularities.

He said the government would sign a memorandum of understanding with the Union government for using modern equipment and technology to complete the resurvey in the State. The resurvey could not be completed even after 45 years.

He said the government proposed to distribute land to the poor on a large scale, staring from Kannur. The target was two lakh houses for the poor in two years.

After the Minister’s reply, the House passed the demands for grants totalling more than Rs.416 crore in the absence of the Opposition.