Wetland diversion will harm food security, say experts

January 15, 2016 12:00 am | Updated September 23, 2016 12:40 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram:

The absence of a land policy for conservation of natural resources could have serious implications for Kerala’s food security, according to experts participating in a national seminar on land use planning which concluded here on Thursday. In a paper presented at the seminar, former Commissioner, Kerala State Land Use Board C.J. Thampi said Kerala, despite a severe deficit in food grains, had been diverting precious wetlands for non agricultural purposes. Lack of political will had hindered the implementation of the draft land use policy drafted in 1996, he said.

Stressing the need for decentralised land use planning, Dr. Thampi called for a shift from subsistence farming to competitive, entrepreneurial agriculture focussing on value-added, diversified products. In his paper, R. Sridhar, programme director, Thanal, a city-based NGO, said the absence of a land policy was impeding conservation of land resources and regulation of activities like mining and reclamation of wetlands. The land policy for Kerala had remained a draft document for nearly seven years, he said, adding that it had not even been put up for discussion in public fora.

Mr. Sridhar said the shrinking extent of paddy fields and wetlands had affected the State’s food security and made a mockery of the Land Utilisation Order and the Kerala Paddy and Wetland Conservation Act, 2008. “By catering to a greedy and unsustainable lifestyle of a rich minority, the State has turned into a land of ravaged hills, mauled rivers and dry wetlands. Is this not the failure of land use policy?”

Pointing to the decline in production of food crops since the 1980s, S. Leenakumary, Professor, Kerala Agricultural University, said the State would have to pay a heavy price for diversion of farmland for non-agricultural purposes. Lawyer Harish Vasudevan stressed the need for a specific statute for land utilisation in Kerala. “Without a statutory backing, any land use policy would face problems in enforcement,” he asked.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.