Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has said that the Kerala government has to muster political will to find the land required for assignment among 2.5 lakh landless families in the State over the next two years under its Zero Landless (Citizens) Kerala Project.

Declaring Kannur the first zero-landless district in the country at a public function here on Friday, Mr. Ramesh said that it was not easy to find land in Kerala or in any other State. The number of landless people is very large, the amount of land is limited, and the price of land is very high, he said exuding confidence that the State government would show the political will to find land to be given to the landless in two years under the project. Terming the State government’s zero-landless project revolutionary, he said it was a great challenge to find land for the project. He further said his Ministry would extend its support if the State government submits a proposal for making the beneficiaries of the zero-landless project part of the Indira Awas Yojna.

Stating that there were almost 1.5 crore landless families all over the country, the Minister urged all other States to follow the lead Kerala had set. Observing that Kannur normally hit news headlines for issues related to political violence, Mr. Ramesh said the United Democratic Front (UDF) government had given a positive image to the district by making it the first zero-landless district.

Complimenting P. Mahendran and village officer Naseema, who donated six cents and three cents respectively of their land for assignment among the landless, he said the spirit of the Bhoodan Movement of Acharya Vinoba Bhave was being recaptured in the district.

The Minister also inaugurated the distribution of title deeds to the beneficiaries at the function. As many as 11,103 landless families in the district were given title deeds at the function. They included 226 tribal families who received title to one acre of land each.

Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash presided over the function.

Finding land for the landless a great challenge: Jairam Ramesh