Settle Idukki title claims, says CPI(M)

Special Correspondent

‘Farmers a concerned lot’

‘All settler farmers are not encroachers’

Wants title deeds given to 82,000 settler farmers

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Indicating its unhappiness about the manner in which the land question in Idukki district is being handled by the State government, the CPI(M) State committee has asked it not to treat all settler farmers in Munnar as encroachers and settle once and for all claims for title deeds and possession certificates in the district.

In a statement issued at the end of the two-day party State committee meeting here on Saturday, the CPI(M) State committee reminded the government that the stand of a section of the officialdom that all settler farmers in Munnar as encroachers had created widespread concern among the farming community in the district. Such an approach, the committee felt, would only help big encroachers. The LDF government must ensure that there would not be any move on the part of the government against the settler farmers in the district, it said.

The State committee, which adopted a report on the land question in Idukki district submitted by a three-member sub-committee appointed by it, wanted the government to give title deeds to the 82,000 settler farmers in Idukki who were spread over the 48 panchayats and 60 villages in the district. The government must also give legal validity for all title deeds and possession certificates issued by successive Communist-Leftist governments in the district, it said.

The committee criticised the stand of the authorities that 19 towns in the district, forming part of the Cardamom Hill Reserve (CHR), were dense forests. The move to declare these areas as ecologically fragile lands must also be given up. Persons who had settled in areas close to dams must be given title deeds immediately. The government should also grant extension of lease in respect of the land being used for cardamom cultivation. The validity of different lease deeds had begun to expire from 1980, it pointed out.

The CPI(M) leadership asked the government to expedite legal measures to secure a verdict favourable to settler farmers in cases filed by ‘environmentalist extremists’ before the Supreme Court.

The government must immediately take over the 500 acres in the possession of the Tatas in Munnar township and stop forthwith all steps to evict the small farmers settled in this land. Small farmers eligible for title deeds, the landless who have constructed homes in the land and colony dwellers must be given title deeds immediately. Land encroached into by the Tatas and land not being used by it for estates must be taken over and distributed to the landless.