Chandy’s claim on Aranmula airport land ‘suspicious’
It was virtual ‘land war’ over the proposed Aranmula airport between the government and the Opposition in the Assembly on Thursday. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy cornered Opposition Leader VS Achuthanandan over notification of 2,500 acres of land for the purpose during his reign, but Achuthanandan surprised everyone by saying that the airport is not necessary at all. Chandy also announced denotification of 2,000 acres out of the 2,500 acres notified and said ‘‘only 500 acres are enough for the project and renotification will be issued accordingly.”
The VS Government had notified acquisition of the land, including vast stretches of paddy fields in Aranmula, to develop the airport by a private consortium.
Chandy made the announcement on denotification while the Opposition members created an uproar over a Cabinet decision taken on February 8 this year giving the nod for regularisation of converted paddy fields and wetlands prior to January 1, 2005 after imposing a heavy fine up to 15 percent of the fair value of land in various categories.
The Chief Minister also turned the tables on VS by laying a directive issued by the latter as Chief Minister to the Pathanamthitta District Collector on January 12, 2010, to initiate immediate steps to ensure land transfer for the Aranmula airport and facilitate construction activities and report the matter to him accordingly.
Allegations of the Opposition on attempts of the UDF Govt to dilute the provisions of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008 and thereby help the land mafia led to heated counter-allegations in the course of discussions on a notice for adjournment motion given by Mullakara Ratnakaran (CPI).
Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash said former Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac, in his budget speech on 2009-10 and 2010-11, had proposed restricted regularisation of the reclaimed paddy fields and wetlands with a cut-off date. The proposal was to allow such regularisation after slapping a one-time heavy fine.
Small holdings of less than five cents meant for construction of buildings have been totally exempted, which is being retained now also.