Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Great Land Tragedy of Kerala

THE Kuttanad taluk  was once called the granary of Kerala. In the 1920s, shallow portions  covering about 50,000 acres, were reclaimed and used for paddy cultivation helped by the Travancore Prince. Later,
while implementing the Land Reforms Act in 1973, the government seized thousands of acres of backwater paddy fields above the ceiling limit .The government started paddy cultivation directly using the bureaucracy controlled by a stalwart IAS officer, to avoid corruption. But it resulted in heavy losses to the State exchequer and these were increasing year after year. Accepting failure, the government abandoned that programme and assigned one acre each to thousands of landless peasants. Those small-scale owners in the backwaters spread beyond the eye-view were bereft of any help for cultivation. The government, not ready to surrender before adverse realities, set up the Co-operative Societies of farmers, inspired by the Agricultural Communes in the Soviet Union, and provided them enough finance on soft conditions. But the Societies collapsed due to the corruption and partisanship of the Directors. For the last three decades backwater paddy fields in 50,000 acres have been left uncultivated thus severely affecting the State’s food production. Hence after enforcement of the Land Reforms Act, paddy fields of more than one million hectares have been left uncultivated due to fragmentation and decentralisation of ownership. Such a situation has stalled the mechanisation and industrialisation of agriculture.

Similarly dryland above the ceiling limit was also seized by the government from the owners by giving them just a pittance. It was assigned to the landless families, so-called, in fragments. They sold it within a few years, squandered the money and became landless once more. Now they have formed suicide squads and encroached on government land influenced by the old Naxalites, new Maoists, other terrorist groups and anarchic writers. Their aim is to get the government land once again, sell it once more and prepare for the next encroachment.

 Now the Tata company is holding 1,16,892.6 acres of plantation including the hill-top tourist centre in the Munnar town. Another company, Harrison, has 79,659.2 acres of plantations. Both companies have encroached on 50,000 acres of government owned land, as alleged by the media. In addition to the Tatas and Harrison, other minor companies, firms, black money operators and millionaires are possessing thousands of acres as plantations on encroached forest land.
In this context ,we  may look into the matter of how the Kerala Land Reforms Act destroyed food production and promoted the capitalists,how the old Naxalites, new Maoists, other terrorist groups and anarchic writers resurrected.One must study the difference between destruction and revolution.

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