Spurt in land conversion applications in Kerala even ahead of special drive

Thiruvananthapuram: Revenue Divisional Offices (RDOs) in Kerala are witnessing a spurt in the number of applications being submitted for the conversion of land.

The monthly increase has been by tens of thousands ever since the revenue department launched the online facility to apply for converting land.

Revenue department authorities said as many as 78,000 applications were pending before the 27 RDOs in Kerala. They said the increase in applications were for converting agricultural land that had already been changed to dry or residential land years ago.

The RDOs received 70,000 applications till last month, which shot up by 8,000 more this month.

While remitting the land tax, the online facility gives the details such as the property record (thandaper) number, tax amount, area and classification, whether dry land or paddy field. Officials said landowners, after realising that their property has been classified as paddy field or agricultural land, might be applying for conversion in large numbers.

Officials, appalled by the spurt in applications, said most requests were regarding land recorded as paddy fields in the Basic Tax Register (BTR), but not included in the databank or in the list of notified land.

Fee exemption
One reason for the spurt in land conversion applications is the fee concession allowed by the state government.

The government issued an order on February 25 this year, giving fee exemption to convert up to 25 cents of land not included in the databank.

Before the order was issued, as many as 40,000 applications for land conversion were pending before the RDOs. It has now touched 78,000.

The RDO would allow conversion after fixing a fair price for land measuring above 25 cents, and collecting 10% of the fair price as fee.

Special drive on Oct 18
Meanwhile, the revenue department would launch a special drive on October 18 to clear the pending requests for the conversion of land. Additional officials would be assigned to RDOs for the drive, which would be rolled out first in Alappuzha.

What the Act states
Land included in the databank could be converted only for constructing residential buildings, according to the provisions of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008. Under the Act, land not exceeding 10 cents in panchayats and five cents in corporation limits could be reclaimed for residential purposes.

Permission for reclaiming land would be provided by the local committees in panchayats and corporations after checking whether the applicant already owns a house or residential property and if s/he has been possessing the land even before 2008. Conversion would be allowed based on the village officer's report to the RDO.

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