The Kerala Sastra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) is getting ready to take on the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government over an amendment to the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008.
The Parishad, at its central executive committee meeting held in Thrissur a few days ago, lashed out at the government for bringing out an ordinance to amend the Act which, they feared, would scuttle the law. The Act had been introduced by the then LDF government in 2008.
Despite 10 years passing since the law had come into effect, the paddy land and wetland databank, crucial for its enforcement, was yet to be published. The LDF, in its manifesto, had promised that it would prepare the databank using satellite images within six months of coming to power.
However, under the amendment brought about through the ordinance, wetlands notified through the databank can be reclaimed to any extent by paying half of the land’s fair value. Besides, the amendment did not necessitate any approval for reclaiming up to 10 cents, according to KSSP president T. Gangadharan and general secretary T.K. Meerabai.
They questioned the logic behind permitting the reclamation of land that did not figure in the databank, despite making no efforts to prepare the same.
The Parishad lamented that the wetland acreage was on the decline, creating fears of widespread repercussions. According to official figures released by the Kerala State Planning Board, the paddy land and wetland acreage had decreased by 13% and paddy cultivation markedly by 21%, when compared to last year.
Despite petitioning the government to withdraw its efforts to convert the ordinance into a law, the government had gone ahead with its attempts by including the Bill among those to be passed during the current session of the Assembly.
Commencing its series of protests against the move, the Parishad will organise a ‘Janasabha’ in the State capital on March 14. Activists R.V.G. Menon, Sugathakumari, M.K. Prasad and A. Achuthan will participate in the programme. In addition, demonstrations will be held at all district centres to intensify the protest.