CPM launches land stir in Kerala, occupies fields

In an attempt to regain lost ground among the toiling class in Kerala, CPM on Tuesday launched a massive land rights campaign across 14 districts of the state. Hundreds of party workers marched into the land tracts which included surplus land and reclaimed paddy fields for various projects, demanding distribution of the surplus land.

According to the party plan, 100 party volunteers would march into such land tracts over the next 10 days. The party men would then occupy the surplus land by raising huts in at least 200 centres.

Inaugurating the march to an estate land in Thrissur, party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said the Congress government had sabotaged the land reforms Act with the support of the US. If the government did not distribute the surplus land among the landless people, the party would unleash an aggressive agitation, he said.

In Kochi, CPM workers marched to the proposed site of Rs 100-crore health city project, which has former cricketer Kapil Dev among directors. The company, Kochi Medical City Tourism Private Limited, had acquired massive paddy field for the project.

CPM workers led by politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan entered into 150 acres of paddy land at Kadamakkudy near Kochi. Addressing the agitation, Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said CPM has launched the second land reforms movement against the land mafia bid to convert paddy fields for real estate ventures.

In Pathanamthitta, the party targeted the paddy field acquired by a private group for a proposed airport. Congress has accused CPM of double standard on the airport project, saying the latter had cleared the project during its previous regime. In Wayanad district, the venue of agitation was a tract within the tea estate owned by RPG group's Harrison Malayalam Plantations Limited.

The agitation came in the backdrop of the Congress government's decision to allow 5 per cent of plantations for non-plantation purposes, including tourism. As a result, it is estimated that around 1 lakh acres of land would go to real estate business in Kerala. Besides, the cashew plantation has been given exemption from the land ceiling that a family can possess only 15 acres of land.

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