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Protest against tourism project at Metran Kayal
March 30, 2010

Protest against tourism project at Metran Kayal

417-acre Metran Kayal was bought by developers from 153 farmers


30 March 2010

Staff Reporter, Kottayam:

The controversy over the tourism project at the 417-acre Metran Kayal also known as Seminary Kayal is snowballing, with environmentalists and agriculturists joining hands against the project.

On Monday, Fr. Thomas Peeliyanickel, executive director, Kuttanad Vikasana Samithy; N. K. Sukumaran Nair, general secretary, Pamba Parirakshana Samithy; Unnikrishnan of Kottayam Nature Club; and M.J. Sivadas, president of Vembanad Kayal Samrakshana Samithy; joined hands to launch what they termed a sustained agitation. In a symbolic act, the protestors held harvested paddy spikes close to their heart and took a pledge to protect the paddy fields at Metran Kayal and called upon all sections of the people to join hands to protest against the large scale destruction of rich paddy fields in Kuttanad.

Speaking on the occasion, Fr. Peeliyanickel said they would soon form units of environmentalists across Kerala to fight for the ‘kayal.' The fight will signify the future of paddy cultivation in Kerala, he said.

According to him, protection of environment and paddy were part of the developmental efforts and not against society's growth.

There are very clear laws against alienation of paddy fields for other uses but authorities seem to turn a blind eye to it. Fr. Peeliyanickel called upon the authorities to take immediate action to cancel the title deeds issued to the new owners for using the land for purposes other than paddy cultivation.

Fr. Peeliyanickel said the State was facing a crisis in food security and today the State produces only 15 per of its needs. The paddy cultivation area which stood at eight lakh hectares in 1965 has dwindled to just 2.64 lakh hectares in 2007.

Metran Kayal, one of the richest paddy tracks in Kuttanad area, was bought by developers from 153 farmers at very low prices and they had kept the kayal fallow for three years.

Now they are going to build a high cost tourism facility after reclamation of the ‘kayal.' This would mark the end of paddy cultivation in Kuttanad and the death of the Vembanad Lake, he said.

Fr. Peeliyanickel alleged that the developers were making unsustainable promises to woo the local people.

Instead of tourism projects with no local moorings, the ‘kayal' should be turned into a comprehensive paddy research and farming centre which would attract tourists, he pointed out.