In order to protect paddy fields in Kerala, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Monday mooted a new legislation that restricts the sale and transfer of paddy land only to farmers.
Replying to a notice for an adjournment motion moved by VS Sunilkumar of the Communist Party of India (CPI) alleging that the government was not taking effective steps to protect paddy fields, Mr Chandy said with the support and co-operation of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Opposition, the government could bring a law to restrict sale of paddy fields only to farmers.
The government was committed to taking measures to check filling of paddy fields and implementing the Kerala Conservation of Paddy and Wetland Act strictly, he said.
Seeking leave for the motion, Mr Sunilkumar said the area of paddy fields in the state had come down drastically in recent years due to conversion of paddy fields for commercial purposes. In 1967, the area under paddy cultivation was 8.20 lakh hectares and this has come down to 2.20 lakh hectares in 2011, he said.
Mr Sunilkumar alleged that moves were afoot to sabotage the work for preparation of a data bank of paddy fields and water bodies started by the previous CPI(M) led LDF government to help the 'land mafia'. Government was hand in glove with 'land mafia', he charged.
Replying to the notice, State Revenue Minister Adoor Prakesh refuted the opposition charge and said that the government had not discontinued the work on 'data bank.'
The draft of the 'data bank' would be published in September, he said, adding that the government only made some changes with a view to rectify certain anomalies in its preparation.
Following Mr Chandy's and Mr Prakesh's replies, Speaker G Karthikeyan disallowed leave for motion.
Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan said the Opposition would take for granted the government's assurance that it would take effective steps to conserve paddy fields.