Thiruvananthapuram: The Assembly on Monday passed the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland (Amendment) Bill-2018 that provides for reclaiming paddy fields for major industrial and infrastructure projects as well as regularising fields filled before 2008, the year in which the original Act came into effect. The Opposition UDF vigorously protested the amendments alleging that it would pave the way for rampant filling of paddy fields, while the treasury benches maintained that it has provisions to enhance paddy cultivation as well. The Opposition tore copies of the Bill and walked out of the house shouting slogans against the government.
While the Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala termed it as a 'black day', chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said he felt pity for them. The new Act also provides for regularisation of wetland reclaimed before the Land Reforms Act of 1967. Wetland filled between 1967 and 2008 could be regularised by imposing a fee of about 50 per cent of the fair value of the land. The new act also provides for allowing construction of houses or shops in five to ten centres of un-notified wetland.
The new law is expected to clear hurdles before big projects and improve the state's ease-of-doing-business ranking which now stands at 21. While the Opposition alleged that this provision could be misused for private projects, revenue minister E. Chandrasekharan said that it was for public projects. Another provision in the Bill was empowering panchayats to carry out cultivation in unused wetlands owned by private parties.
The Delhi police arrested the accused last week at the airport based on a look-out notice issued against him by the Kerala police and later he was sent to Tihar jail in judicial custody. The accused, who claimed to be a former RSS activist, allegedly came on Facebook Live on June 5 and threatened to kill Mr Vijayan. He, however, deleted the video later and apologised. The accused was working at a private firm in West Asia. He was terminated from the company because of the case against him....