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Differing view: An old man airs his anguish at a special grama sabha convened at the Moonnumukku ward of the Kanhirankulam panchayat on Monday. —
Differing view: An old man airs his anguish at a special grama sabha convened at the Moonnumukku ward of the Kanhirankulam panchayat on Monday. —

Special Correspondent

Government urged to exempt ward from Vizhinjam project area

Thiruvananthapuram: Frayed tempers and desperate pleas marked a special grama sabha convened at the Moonnumukku ward of the Kanhirankulam panchayat near here on Monday to discuss the government move to acquire land for the Vizhinjam seaport project.

Concerned residents, the majority of them women, poured out their woes at the meeting.

Many of them lamented that the land acquisition would deprive them of their livelihood and condemn them to a bleak future.

Grama panchayat vice-president Gopalakrishnan (CPI), who chaired the meeting, had to face a hostile crowd right from the beginning.

The people demanded that the panchayat committee withdraw its earlier resolution to identify land at the Moonnumuku ward to set up allied industries.

Adopts resolution

The meeting adopted a resolution urging the government to withdraw the notification for land acquisition and exempt the ward from the area earmarked for the project and its allied activities. The resolution moved by Kazhivoor Sureshkumar was adopted unanimously. Moonnumukku ward member S.Rathidevi was present.

Mr.Sureshkmar said the land acquisition would deprive all the 265 families in the ward of their small landholdings.

“Most of us have lived here for generations, eking out a living from agriculture and dairy farming. The government alleges that our resistance is motivated by the real estate mafia that had bought up large chunks of land here. Can they show us even one plot in the ward that has been purchased by real estate developers?”

Says R.Chandran, a ward resident who was forced to give up farming because of a cardiac problem: “I just manage to fend for my wife and two daughters. All we have is six cents and a partially completed house. We have nowhere to go if the government takes away our land. How will we live?”

K.Thankappan, a farm worker, was more vociferous in his criticism of the land acquisition move.

“These politicians are hoodwinking the people. They are taking us for a ride after getting our votes. We will not stand by and watch them take away our land. They will do it only over our dead bodies”.

Victoria, a fish vendor, from the neighbouring village of Pulluvila was equally strident in her opinion.

“The government cannot drive all these people out of their land. It will be cruel. Where will I sell fish if there are no people here?”

The participants scoffed at the government’s assurance that they will get jobs once the seaport becomes operational. “Most of the breadwinners here are farmers and manual labourers with little education. What jobs will they get? Who will employ them,” asks L.Natarajan, a ward resident.

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