Kerala

End in sight to family’s struggle to retain right over land

Chief Minister seeks report from District Collector

It is a new lease of life for this late farmer’s family which has been waging a long battle to regain right over his land for the past several years.

A meeting of senior officials convened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday directed the Wayanad District Collector to submit a detailed report on the issues facing Kanhirathinal George’s family.

K.K. James, George’s son-in-law, along with his wife and two children, has been staging an agitation in front of the collectorate here for the past five years to secure the family’s legal right over the land.

George had bought 12 acres in Kanhirangad village of Mananthavady taluk from Kuttanadan Cardamom Company in the late 1960s. It was later learnt that the land was ‘janmam patta’, which implied it had unquestionable status.

George’s ordeal began in 1983 when village officials declined to receive land tax from him as the Forest Department had declared the property a vested forest land.

Though he waged a protracted legal battle lasting three decades against the declaration, he could not succeed. After the LDF government came to power in 2006, the first Cabinet meeting decided to acknowledge the farmer’s claims over the land.

“Though we had paid land tax for the plot in 2007, the High Court banned all non-forest activities on the land after an environment organisation challenged the government’s decision,” Mr. James said. Officials stopped receiving tax on the direction of the Forest Department Secretary in 2008, he added. In the meantime, George and his wife died.

Mr. James said he had acquired several documents under the Right to Information Act which reportedly proved that some officials of the Forest Department had forged documents against the farmer.

The meeting discussed proposals submitted by officials on the land issue. Forest Minister K. Raju, Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekharan, C.K. Saseendran, MLA, Forest and Wildlife Additional Chief Secretary Asha Thomas, Revenue Principal Secretary Dr. V. Venu, and Law Secretary P.K. Aravinda Babu attended.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 12:36:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/end-in-sight-to-familys-struggle-to-retain-right-over-land/article30786270.ece

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