THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government, which faced wide criticism over its move to regularise reclaimed paddy fields, is in a catch 22 situation with the leading Congress party yet to take a decision on revoking the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland (Regularisation of Unauthorised Reclamation) Rules, 2015. Meanwhile, Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash last week discussed the issue with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and KPCC chief V M Sudheeran.
In the meetings, Prakash had informed them about the situation that had led to the framing of rules. “I discussed everything related to the issue with Chief Minister and KPCC chief. I have clearly told them that there was no need to revoke the rules as the High Court has even upheld it in its recent orders,” he said.
When asked if the rules could be revoked or changes brought in because of the wide spread agitation against it, he said, “I cannot say that now. Any decision can be taken only after discussing it with the Chief Minister.” Moreover, he said that those who oppose the rules should about it in the wake of the recent HC orders that upheld the rules.
Pointing out that the amendments and rules were brought about after discussing them in detail in the Assembly as part of Finance Bill, Prakash said that it was not the Revenue Department that had called for framing the rules. The Revenue Department had to frame the rules and make changes in the Act as it was part of the Finance Bill, he added.
Meanwhile, Sudheeran said that a decision had not been taken on the issue. “Though Revenue Minister had discussed the issue, a decision would only taken after a committee under KPCC vice-president V D Satheesan, constituted to look into the issue, meets.
“Satheeshan could not attend the last meeting and hence an elaborate discussion could not be held. The committee will now be holding its meeting on January 6,” he said.
It has to be noted that the Congress committee that looked into the issue had reported that no changes can be brought in the rules which were against the Act. The Act prevails, and if rules are framed against the Act, it will have no legal sanctity.
As per the rules, the regularisation should be based on data bank prepared under the Act, which the report said was not practical. With the committee and many of the Congress leaders like Satheeshan, T N Pratapan and other youth MLAs raising their protest, it is likely that the government would have to either revoke the rules or bring in some changes.
Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan and environmentalists have already come out against the Revenue Department saying that the rules would water down the Conservation of Paddy and Wetland Act, 2008. They alleged that the government was only legalising an illegal activity, which is a threat to the existence of the state.
Congress Panel sounded warning
The Congress committee that looked into the issue had reported that no changes can be brought in the rules which were against the Act. The Act prevails, and if rules are framed against the Act, it will have no legal sanctity.