Thiruvananthapuram: Stung by criticism, the Congress led UDF government in the State Tuesday decided to revoke amendments to Kerala Land Assignment Rules that provided legal status to government land occupied by persons till June 1 2005 after opposition from various quarters, including Congress.
Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash stated this at a press conference here, a day after the government decision drew flak from the opposition and environmentalists
"The amendments were made with good intention to provide as many title deeds as possible to poor farmers in Idukki district following demands from various quarters. But in view of criticism and the row it has triggered, government has decided to withdraw the amendments", he said.
Congress MLA and KPCC Vice-President V D Sateeshan and another party MLA T N Prathapan had come out openly against the decision, contending that it would help encroachers.
Earlier in the day, Sateeshan had said that all efforts would be made to recall the amendments.
Prathapan had called for an inquiry into the whole issue and asked KPCC President V M Sudheeran to look into it.
The row even assumed proportions of a factional feud in Congress with some leaders rallying behind Prakash, saying they would not allow him to be 'isolated' on the issue.
Lashing out at the amendments, CPI-M had alleged that it was with an objective to regularise large-scale encroachments in Kerala, especially in high range region of Idukki district.
The notification of amendment said that "any person in possession of government lands under lease in hilly tracts, whether current or time expired or by way of encroachment not considered objectionable, if occupation of such land completes 10 years on June 1, 2015, will get title deeds."
It had said government had received numerous applications for assignment of land in hilly areas from those who had developed the land, cultivated it and are also staying there and that the amendments were made with a view to extend the benefit of assignment to such occupants.
Environmentalists had also flayed the government decision, alleging that it would abet and legalise encroachments, encourage land and quarry mafia.
CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan had demanded that the amendments be withdrawn.
Green activists pointed out that the new rules could have an adverse impact on the more than 300 encroachment cases filed in different courts.