Amendment of Kerala’s Land Assignment Act by the Congress-led government seeking to grant title deeds to encroachments made until as late as June 1, 2005, has stirred up a hornet’s nest.
Also, the maximum extent of land that can be considered has been raised to four acres under amended Act. As per the existing law, encroachments made till August 1971 alone are considered for grant of title deeds but is limited to one acre in size.
The relevant clause that forbids transfer of land for a period of 25 years too has been changed in what has come as a surprise not just to observers the public but also to the Kerala State Congress Committee (KPCC).
KPCC chief VM Sudheeran has already sought to know from both Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash as to what was the provocation for the sudden move to amend the Act.
This also meant that the party leadership was not taken into confidence about the decision.
Another significant feature is that it has come barely after a week has passed after the Assembly completed its session.
The amendment would need the concurrence of the House within a period of six months to come into effect. Both the Chief Minister and the Revenue Minister have said that the decision was not taken overnight but was merely a logical conclusion of a series of steps taken during the past four to five years.
The so-called ‘green MLAs’ within the ruling Congress have already expressed their concern over the amendment which beats the government’s avowed mission to conserve the precious ecosystem.
That this should have come at a time when it has submitted to the Centre the Kasturirangan report on ecologically sensitive areas along the Western Ghats makes it all the more poignant, they added.