Resistance against farmland conversion in Kerala

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Thrissur, Feb 25: Resistance against utilisation of farmlands for non-agriculture purpose is slowly building up in Kerala with the active support of writers, cultural leaders and environmentalists.

The movement fired its first salvo at Erayamkudi in Mala in this district yesterday when a group of people led by noted poetess Sugathakumari and writer Sarah Joseph sowed paddy seeds in farmlands dotted with brick-kiln units.

The seeds were ceremoniously brought from Karivalloor in Kannur district known for several peasant struggles in the past.

A large number of people, including poets K G Sankara Pillai and D Vinayachandran, Congress legislator V D Satheesan and BJP leader C K Padmanabhan were present to witness the sowing.

Nearly 100 people entered the paddy field carrying spades when Sugathakumari announced that they were going to cultivate the land lying fallow for the past several years.

The movement was born in the context of increased conversion of paddy fields and other farmlands for non-agriculture purpose like brick-making and building construction in violation of the provisions of the Kerala Land Utilisation Act, which bans such activities in farmlands. Large extents of paddy fields were lying fallow in Kerala with paddy cultivation turning out to be non-remunerative because of increased input costs.

Kerala is depending on the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh for rice and vegetables and successive governments in the state were not able to take effective steps to check conversion of farmlands for non-agriculture purpose.


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