In Focus: Construction rights Kerala

Land issue back in the limelight in Idukki

The land issue is once again in the centre stage in the pollscape of Idukki.

With Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announcing that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has initiated measures to amend the 1964 Land Assignment Act and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announcing that the first act of the United Democratic Front (UDF), if elected to power, would be to amend the Act, the issue has gained traction in the Assembly poll campaign. The National Democratic Alliance has also reiterated its commitment to solve land-related issues in the district.

In the wake of the Western Ghats reports, the issue was raised as a major point in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with the verdict favouring the LDF. In the 2016 Assembly elections also there were ripples of the issue and three of the five Assembly seats went to the LDF. However, the issue was not in the spotlight in the last Lok Sabha and local bodies elections. Now, the sudden twist in the election campaign is in the form of a ban on constructions other than houses as per the title deed issued under the Land Assignment Act, 1964.

Till recently, political party leaders had said development concerns, corruption, and general issues raised in the other districts would be highlighted in Idukki too. Then, out of the blue came the rejection of application for a no-objection certificate for erecting a tent on a land with title deed issued under a condition.

Conditions

In reply to the application, the District Collector stated that the title deed was issued under the Land Assignment Act, 1964 and it specified that the land could be used for farming and house construction only.

According to revenue officials, the title deeds issued as per the 1964 rules specified that the land could be used only for farming activities. Houses could only be constructed for living there. The construction ban would prevail until the rules were amended.

The UDF decided to raise it as a major poll issue in the Assembly elections. It has called a hartal in Idukki on March 26 in protest against the construction ban.

District Congress Committee president Ibrahimkutty Kallar said an all-party meeting called by the Chief Minister in 2019 had decided to amend the 1964 Act. However, the government had not yet amended it.

“The Chief Minister and the government have deceived Idukki natives. Now, people cannot construct even a single shop on their title deed land. We have received information that the district administration has refused NOC for such constructions,” Mr. Kallar said.

“Even before the election, we have demanded that the government amend the 1964 rules. But the government did not solve the issue,” he said.

Retrospective effect

The High Range Samrakshana Samiti (HRSS), which raised the Western Ghats issue influencing the Lok Sabha election in 2014 and the Assembly election in 2016, also stressed the need to amend the 1964 Act. Its general convener Fr. Sebastian Kochupurakal said the rules should be amended with retrospective effect. The 1964 rule amendment was a serious issue and the fronts should reveal their stance before the election.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is of the view that issues concerning farmers in Idukki needed to be solved first.

District president K.S. Aji said both the fronts had ruled the State and the 1964 Act had not been amended yet. Many undeserved had been issued title deeds.


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 6:27:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/kerala-assembly/land-issue-back-in-the-limelight-in-idukki/article34135228.ece

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