The UDF is holding a 12-hour hartal in the Idukki district of Kerala from 6 am to 6 pm on Monday, 28 November, seeking the amendment of land laws and the possible removal of the construction restrictions in the district.
All UDF allies, including the IUML, Kerala Congress, and RSP are part of the hartal for the “welfare of the farmers and the common people of the district”.
“Almost all the constructions in the district have now become illegal since there is no amendment in the land laws of 1964, and 1993. There are also reports of the government drafting an anti-farmer land bill,” Ibrahimkutty Kallar, former district Congress committee (DCC) president, told South First.
“The hartal is being conducted to claim the rights of the people in Idukki to have constructions on their land,” he added.
In the words of the former DCC president, the Kerala government agreed to make reforms to the land bill after a joint party meeting in December 2019. No step was taken since then.
“The hartal is to ensure the people of Idukki have an amended land laws bill at least by 2023. All the Opposition parties including the Congress and the BJP will work together on this matter for the welfare of the people,” he added.
“The UDF is planning to move ahead with the protests as the decades-old land laws in Kerala are affecting the livelihood of the people in the hilly district. The hartal is a battle for the survival of the poor farmers in Idukki and the government should be ready to face a massive protest by the people of Idukki irrespective of the social and community background,” said Ibrahimkutty.
Minister’s visit cancelled
A scheduled visit of the Minister of Industries, Law and Coir, P Rajeev, for a seminar on industrial entrepreneurship is also cancelled because of the hartal.
The UDF had also conducted several hartals in the Idukki district in the past few years regarding the implementation of the Gadgil and Kastoorirangan committee reports on the Western Ghats declaring the extent of ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs).
The report was scrapped and the Kastoorinrangan report was put on hold by the Centre after protests happened in various states including Kerala.
The Centre assured the people in July 2022 that the recommendations in the Kastoorirangan report would not be implemented until a high-powered committee conducts a physical survey of the villages that are likely to be affected.