The Indian Express, Feb 13 2014, Thiruvanathapuram: The State Government is determined to give compensation for the land acquired for setting up a campus of Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences in Wayanad despite the State Land Board and the Revenue Department opposing the move.
In spite of the Land Board submitting a report three days ago that no compensation need be given to the owners of Glen Leven Estate as the land to be acquired was actually government land, the proposal had come up in Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting. Sources said that the Cabinet took up the issue only because of political compulsions. The Revenue Department is known to be under pressure for taking a decision favouring the estate owner.
However, the Cabinet did not take a decision in this regard. When contacted, Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash said, ‘’No decision has been taken regarding the land.’’ In the report of the Land Board, it has been said that the 75 acres of land to be acquired for the Institute came under exempted category and was ‘controlled land’ for which no compensation need be given.
It is learned that a compensation of about Rs 20 crore to Rs 25 crore is proposed to be given. Moreover, hundreds of acres of land belonging to Glen Leven estates have been declared as excess land by the Taluk Land Board. Once declared as excess land, it has to be surrendered to the government free of cost, the report said and added that there was no provision to give compensation to excess land under the Land Acquisition Act.
The Revenue Divisional Office, Mananthavadi, had in its report said that an extent of 64.93 acres of land belonging to Glen Leven estates has been declared as excess land by the Taluk Land Board.
The Land Board also maintained that even if it is a plantation, the land that is beyond 15 acres is surplus land and hence, comes under government control. Moreover, as the land comes under exempted category, it automatically vests with the government once the category is changed as per Section 87 of the Kerala Land Reforms Act.
In Section 87 of the Act, it is specified that exemption shall cease to apply if such land is not actually used for the purpose for which it has been set apart.
The Land Board had stated that owners of the estate had only lease hold rights and the ownership of the plantation was still with the Karanavar of Varayal Edem. It was in 1941 that the Karanavar had given the land for lease to V V Joseph and others.
Later, Joseph purchased all the lease hold rights. After Joseph’s death, his legal heirs transferred the lease hold rights to Glen Leven, which means that they are not the original owners.
Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan had already asked the government to desist from the move. He had said that the move was illegal and would lead to corruption.