Campaign against LA Amendment Bill 2023; LDF lashes out at Idukki Land Freedom Movement

CPM district Secretary C V Varghese, Idukki LDF convenor K K Sivaraman, and other LDF leaders holding a presser in Thodupuzha. Photo: Special Arrangement

Idukki: The Left Democratic Front has come out against the Idukki Land Freedom Movement (ILFM) for submitting a representation to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan seeking changes in the Rules of Land Assignment Act rather than amending it.

Speaking to media persons in Thodupuzha on Monday, CPM district Secretary C V Varghese, LDF district convenor K K Sivaraman and other leaders of the front said that taking up the matter with the governor and asserting him not to give his consent for the much-awaited Kerala Land Assignment (Amendment) Bill 2023, which was unanimously passed by the assembly on September 14, needs to be seen as a betrayal of the farmers and landholders in Idukki.

“The government has not yet come up with the rules. There are provisions in the amended Bill to utilise the land for purposes other than building houses and agriculture. But, the movement is hell-bent on disturbing smooth governance. They are upholding the interests of the lobbies who have encroached on the land and looted forest wealth,” the LDF said in a joint statement.

They also alleged that the governor has put on hold as many as 11 Bills passed by the assembly, and ILFM, by coming up with a representation, proves they were playing into the hands of the BJP.

Reacting to the allegations levelled by LDF, Rassak Chooravelil, chairman of Athijeevana Poratta Vedi and general convenor of ILFM, said the movement would continue its campaigning for the amendment of the Rule of 1964 to get unconditional title deeds for the farmers and residents in Idukki.

“LDF stated in the presser that our claim that the High Court order on September 11, 2010, making NOC mandatory for further constructions was pertaining only to Munnar Town was baseless. But, we stand by our claim. However, in 2016, the district collector and Devikulam sub-collector unnecessarily made the NOC mandatory in eight villages under Devikulam and Udumbanchola taluks. We have documented evidence to prove that and we have even challenged LDF on this matter earlier,” said Chooravelil.

He said that though there is provision for use of LA land other than agriculture and to build houses, that could be allowed only if the government deems it necessary.

“If the application for the use of land for other purposes is rejected, the land value will fall and that will be a major setback for the title holder. The amendment also clearly states that it is meant only for those title deed holders on the day the amendment comes into effect and has let out nearly 1.1 lakh applicants for title deed in Idukki, whose applications have not yet been processed by the revenue department,” he noted.

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