THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government has flouted land reform rules in providing surplus land to a Society in Malappuram for setting up a college at `1,000 per acre per annum lease, even when the value of land in the region stands at Rs 4 to 6 lakh per cent.
Though the government has said that the surplus land has been provided in the name of public purpose, it is alleged to be against the existing land reform rules.
The government in its order (G.O (M.S)No 342/2014/RD) dated August 8, 2014, says that an extent of 5 acres of land from the 7.45 acres of surplus land in Survey No 3/1 of Block No 78 in Wandoor village has been given on lease of `1,000 per acre per annum for 30 years to Indhiraji Memorial Society.
The government is said to have neglected the recommendations of the State Land Board, which had pointed out that surplus lands should not be given to private societies even if public interest was involved in it as it would go against the spirit of KLR Act.
As per the Act, if surplus land has to be used for public purpose, it should be in conformity with the main objective of the Act, which is agrarian reforms. Priority should be for providing surplus land to landless agricultural labourers, which has been flouted here.
It has been alleged that when the value of land stood at about `5 lakh per cent, the society has been granted land almost free of cost. It was also alleged that once the land is given on lease, the society will become the owners of the land in course of time, which was evident in most of the leased land cases.
Meanwhile, Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash said that land was provided to the society for starting a college as part of Scheduled Castes upliftment. ‘’Though the Land Board has objected to the proposal, the land was given based on public interest. The land was given after the society formed for the welfare of SCs approached the government,’’ he said. When asked if it will not dilute the very principle of the KLR Act, he merely said that the land was given as it was for a public cause.
In the order, it is said that the government is providing the land as it has all the rights as per the Land Assignment rules. However, the order does not mention KLR Act, where surplus land and its assignments are given more elaborate mention.
Doubts have also been raised about providing land to a society that was only registered last year. Kasinathan, secretary of the society, was not available for comments despite repeated attempts by ‘Express’ to contact him.
However, a person closely associated with the society said that it was an aided college and the society was registered last year. On the sanctioning of the land, he said: ‘’We came to know about it but the details are awaited.’’