Harrisons case setback may cost Kerala government dear in Erumeli airport project

Harrisons Malayalam Ltd (HML) case is likely to leave a financial burden on the government during the land acquisition process for the Erumeli airport project.

Published: 13th April 2018 03:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2018 03:24 AM   |  A+A-

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

KOTTAYAM: The High Court order dismissing special officer M G Rajamanickam’s directive to take over the land in possession of Harrisons Malayalam Ltd (HML) is likely to leave a financial burden on the government during the land acquisition process for the Erumeli airport project.

With the court’s order, Bishop K P Yohannan’s Believers Church has got the ownership right of the land in Cheruvally Estate, which was proposed as the site for the project. Around 800 acres of the total 2,263 acres in the estate was needed for the project. Now, the government will have to acquire the land from Believers Church.

According to Kottayam District Congress Committee secretary Rony K Baby, “With the government losing the Harrisons case, it will be forced to accept the terms and conditions to be set by the Church for acquiring the land.”

Baby alleged a conspiracy behind the government losing the case against Harrisons. “The government lost the case to protect the interest of Believers Church. While the government had all the chances to win, it deliberately lost the case to acquire the land from the Church, offering them 25 per cent share in the airport project. As a result, the government also regularised the possession of the rest of the land to the company,” he said. The government’s efforts over the past 20 years to take over around 5 lakh acres of land, which is under the illegal possession of various companies, has been completely sabotaged with the latest High Court order, he said.

Baby alleged that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was directly involved in sabotaging the case in court.
“When the UDF was in power, the law secretary had recommended the government to take over the illegal possessions from companies on the basis of the Rajamanickam report. However, the law secretary changed the stance two-a-and-half years later, recommending not to accept the report, which became favourable for the companies in court,” he alleged.

He urged government to introduce a new law in line with the Kannan Devan Hills (Resumption of Lands) Act, 1971, to tide over the current crisis.Meanwhile, Believers Church public relations officer Fr Sijo Panthapallil said the Church won’t object if the government approaches it with the project. “We have not received any official communication from the government regarding the Erumeli airport project. The terms and conditions will be discussed only after that. The Church council will discuss such things after hearing the government’s proposal and take a decision on it,” he said.

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