Even as the state government moves ahead with the mission to make Kerala a zero landless state by 2015, the tribal folks are apprehensive over the status of the land promised to them.
They fear that the project will sabotage the struggle for restoration of alienated tribal land. The zero landless project, tribal rights activists say, will only help undermine the Kerala Land Reforms Act, the pact signed by the government with adivasis in 2001, the Chengara Agreement of 2009, the SC verdict which directed the government to provide one acre land and the Draft National Land Reforms Policy (2013).
Activists said the government is deviating from their promise to provide five acres of land to the tribal families by extending the zero landless project to tribals. Most of the land earmarked for distribution in districts like Idukki, Kannur and Wayanad were taken over by the government for setting up various projects, they alleged.
“The Chengara package and Supreme Court verdict are yet to be implemented,” said Adivasi Gothra Sabha leader M Geethanandan, accusing the government of not taking steps to identify land for tribals.
Wayanad Prakrithi Samrakshana Samithi president N Badusha said the promises made by the UDF Government led by A K Antony (providing five acres of land) and V S Achuthanandan (providing one acre), when the LDF was at helm, were not honoured. “Now the government has come up with the three cent project. The state has lots of excess land, which could be distributed to the adivasis,” he said.
Badusha said several tribal families were living under horrible circumstances because of their landlessness. “Six tribal families are living in one cent of land in Naikatty village in Noolpuzha grama panchayat in Wayanad. Similarly, about 16 families are living in 2 cents of land in Nenmenikunnu on the Kalloor-Nambikalli road,” he said. Refuting the allegations, Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash said that all landless in the state are being provided land.
“In Kannur, the tribal people who have applied as per the project are getting one acre of land. The government’s policy is to cater to all sections of people,” he said. P S Uttaman of Adivasi Ekopana Samithi said the tribal people should be given land adjacent to their dwellings, as most of them do not wish to move out of their surroundings.