THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Government’s decision to issue title deeds to as many as 600 families of the Kinalur estate in Kozhikode district as compensation in lieu of the arrears in gratuity and other financial benefits, which could not be paid to the estate employees after the estate started incurring losses, is seen as a major setback to the various land laws.
When in reality, the benefits to the employees are to be given by the estate owners, the government has, in fact, helped the private owners to get away with their liabilities.
As per the government order dated January 31, 2015, title deeds will be issued to 533 employees against the compensation and other benefits which were due to them. It is alleged that the government had issued the order under political pressure mounting on it to settle the issue at the earliest.
Even as the government issued the order, a majority of officials in the Land Board and the Revenue Department have expressed their resentment, stating that it would undermine the land laws in the state.
Apart from this, doubts have also been raised wheth er the employees would be the actual beneficiaries. It is also alleged that the government had no business to help a private estate owner. Highly placed sources said that the government had taken such a decision even when the estate owners had fragmented and sold about 2600 acres of the total 6000 acres with them.
If mutation was given to fragmented land, it would be only in violation of the statutory provisions of the Kerala Land Reforms Act (KLR) and the Land Utilisation Order, the officials said. As per the KLR Act, the provisions are clear that any person who had obtained exemption benefits in respect of plantations could not alienate after fragmentation and this could defeat the ceiling provisions of the Act. As per section 87 of the KLR Act, once the plantations are fragmented and used for any other purpose, the protection of land ceiling given to it vanishes and the holder will have to surrender the excess land to the government. And, as per the Land Utilisation Order, conversion of land used for cultivating a special crop into other types of land is prohibited. They also fear that it would set a precedence for other estate owners who have already fragmented the land.
Meanwhile, Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash said that the government had taken such a decision after the workers were denied gratuity and other benefits after the estates went into loss. “The government always abide by law. But the government has also to take a humanitarian approach,’’ the Minister said.