October 10, 2016
When around two lakh acres of land in the plantation sector is lying barren in the state, the government is contemplating to take on lease 50,000 hectares in Andhra Pradesh for cultivating cashew in a bid to save the sector.
A large portion of coffee and tea estates in parts of Wayanad, Palakkad and Idukki districts lay sans any kind of cultivation and as per the Kerala Land Reforms Act, the exemption given to these lands could be cancelled and taken back by the government. Once land is not used for the purpose for which exemption is given, then the land could be taken back by the government and used for any other purpose. However, the government is yet to take any lead in this regard. Moreover, the Revenue Department has come across many of the plantations engaged in fragmentation of the land and selling it, which was in violation of the existing land rules. Once a plantation fragments its land, the exemption given to it stands cancelled and can be taken back as per the KLR act, the sources said. In the last many years, thousands of acres of land has been fragmented and sold. Stating that the government was aware of barren plantation lands and fragmentation, Revenue Minister EChandrasheklaran said, ‘’though the rules stipulate the take over of these lands, there are many legal hurdles involved in it. The law department should have to be consulted in this issue. Moreover, it has to be placed before the cabinet.’’
In the recent episode, the state government has prepared a detailed project report for taking land on lease in Andhra Pradesh for cashew farming. The plan is to implement the project with the help of the National Horticulture Mission, which would be giving 80 per cent of the total project cost to the state. Sreekakulam and Vijayanagaram have been identified as the places for cashew farming. Fisheries and Cashew Industry Minister J Mercykutty Amma said that they were not averse to cultivate cashew in the state provided land was available. Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar said that there was a proposal for taking the barren lands here and start cashew farming. meeting of Forest, LSGD and Agriculture Ministers have been called next week that would also look into the possibility of making available land here.