Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has taken strong exception to the hue and cry raised against promotion of farm tourism in ‘Emerging Kerala’.
Addressing a post-Cabinet media briefing here on Wednesday, Chandy said that the proposal to change existing laws was aimed at making the best use of unutilised land and heritage buildings in various plantations for tourism purposes and hi-tech farming.
However, it will be subject to a maximum five per cent utilisation of the entire holding for the purpose.
Under the prevailing law, no such diversification is allowed. It is mandatory that 90 per cent of the five per cent earmarked land in the plantations should be utilised for cultivation of other crops such as vegetables and flowers or for dairy farming or biofarming.
Only the rest of the land, which means 10 per cent of the five percent land, will be allowed for promoting farm tourism. In short, in a 100-acre estate, only 50 cents can be used for farm tourism.
A total of 4.5 acres should be utilised for cultivation and other related activities. The maximum limit allowable for farm tourism will be 10 acres, irrespective of the size of holdings. In a 2000 acre estate or above, the maximum limit will be ten acres only. Eco-friendly construction in these holdings is also a prescribed norm attendant to the proposal, Chandy said.
The suggestion of farm tourism was brought forward by the trade unions during the last UDF Government’s tenure, when the plantation sector was passing through a lean phase and workers were at the receiving end. An enactment was also introduced which was not opposed by anyone at that time.
The LDF Government also formed a 19-member committee consisting of trade union representatives, which mooted the idea of more revenue generation for plantations from other sources to tide over the crisis on account of low prices of plantation crops, he pointed out.