THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: No new law is needed to reclaim idle land under government, non-government, cooperative or charitable institutions, says former Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue and Land Management) Nivedita P Haran.
Her earnest efforts to retrieve such land in the past was well-received and widely appreciated.
She tells ‘Express’: “The main reason for not reclaiming the land given for certain projects was the sheer apathy of officers and politicos. Large extents of land are lying unutilised. HMT Ltd went on to transfer the land under their possession during my tenure as Revenue Secretary.”
“When the government opposed the move, they challenged the decision in the High Court. But the Court ruled against the land transfer citing it was handed over to them for a particular project,” she recalls.
“Even if the land given to a government department for a particular project is lying idle, it could be reclaimed. By leaving the land idle, the government department is causing heavy loss in terms of job and income. It is a loss of opportunity as well. There is no justification for not taking this land back,” Nivedita says.
A land bank was constituted and an inventory of government land was prepared during her tenure as Revenue Secretary. She says a quantum of land retrieved from land-grabbers was already in the land bank.
“Imagine the emotional trauma a land owner endures while his land is acquired. The individual is letting go of his or her inherited property for public purpose. If the same land is left idle and then allowed to be encroached upon by others, it would be a double whammy for the original land owner,” she says.
Asked whether she had faced any political pressure while reclaiming land, she chose not to comment.