Alienation of tribal land in Attappady

The failure of the Survey Department to provide the requisite number of personnel to survey Kottathara village has been an impediment in taking action on the major recommendations of the expert committee on the Attappady tribal land scam.

(Large areas of land in possession of tribespeople in Kottathara village had reportedly been usurped by multinational companies to put up windmills).

The committee, headed by the Chief Secretary, had submitted its report to the government three months ago.

At least 100 staff would be required to complete the survey (of Kottathara alone) in three months, District Collector K.V. Mohankumar said. A total of 100 staff were posted but only 14 joined duty, he added.

The process

All the six villages in the Attappady tribal block had to be surveyed to detect alienation of tribal land. This would require the services of at least 500 personnel and a whole year, Mr. Mohankumar said.

A special revenue office headed by a Deputy Collector was opened on December 1, 2010 in Agali as part of implementing the panel recommendations.

The office had received 352 complaints of land alienation. The hearing on these complaints started on January 4, 2011. Documents were being scrutinised by the officers concerned, he said.

Panel report

The committee report stated that ‘there is a total disconnect between the position on the ground where tribal people still claim possession of the ‘tharissu' (uncultivated) land the registered documents of ownership which have been fabricated under which another set of people are shown to hold ownership rights. This points to the alienation of tribal land, attracting the provisions of the Kerala Restriction on Transfer by and Restoration of Land to Scheduled Tribes Act, 1999.'

‘The corporates have gone about implementing the windmill project by setting up multiple companies, which then ‘purchased' lands. This itself gives the project ‘an unclean image.' ‘Instead, to implement the windmill project, the Company could have sought exemption upfront under Section 81(3) of Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 with adequate justification to acquire land beyond the ceiling limit and to set up the project, taking assistance under the government's policy to encourage generating ‘green energy.' ‘In short, it emerges that M/s Sarjan Realities Limited alone has acquired 374.48 acres of land in Kottathara, Agali and Sholayur villages of Attappady. They have sold off 31 plots of 1.20 acres each to investors. Windmills have been put up on these plots either before or after transfer of the plots. Still they retain 337.28 acres in Attappady,' the report stated.

‘The dubious character of most of the purchases of land by the company notwithstanding, the fact remains that the company has violated the land ceiling limit and action should be taken against them,' it stated.

  • 352 complaints pending at special revenue office
  • Entire survey will need 500 staff: Collector