Land for mobility hub assigned to farmers

Farmers’ collective had restored 200-acre polder in January

The efforts to revive paddy cultivation in Kottayam have received a major boost with the authorities deciding to allocate vast tracts of polders set aside for establishing the Kottayam Mobility Hub to a farmers’ collective.

In an order, Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) Anil Oommen allotted the land to the Punnakkal-Karayirakku farmers collective for paddy cultivation under Section 10 (3) (3f) of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Conservation Act, which stipulates that vast tracts of cultivable land should not be left fallow. The order further stipulated the farming agency not to change the structure of the property and return the land in case its actual owners expressed interest in farming the land on their own. The order followed a dispute between the farming collective and the property owner, who had approached the High Court against farming in the property in violation of Sections 15 and 16 of the Act. The court had referred the matter to the RDO, who issued the order. It has come as a shot in the arm for the people’s initiative for Meenachilar-Meentharayar-Kodooraar Relinking, which restored the 200-acre polder network last year. “This is an important step towards restoration of wetlands as it is the State government that has taken the initiative in resuming cultivation in a fallow land,” said K. Anil Kumar, convener of the river linking initiative.

The polder network was restored early this year by a collective of 35 farmers after the LDF government reversed its decision to reclaim the paddy fields for the Kottayam Mobility Hub project. The project, which comprised a bus terminal complex, convention centre, exhibition centre, and a cricket stadium, came under a cloud following grave concerns of it violating provisions of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008. It was later abandoned.

Additional 120 acres

Alongside the 200-acre property, the collective had also restored an additional 120 acres lying adjacent to it. As part of resuming cultivation, each farmer was given ₹25,000 per hectare, besides seeds free of cost. Similarly, the 3-km-long Manippuzha canal, which connects the polder network to the Kodoor river, was also restored with the support of the Irrigation Department and the Kottayam municipality.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 12:19:40 AM |

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