KERALA: When a few applicants, including local residents and building designers, from Chanthavila and Kattayikonam divisions visited the Kazhakkoottam zonal office and City Corporation office for a building permit last year, they were in for a shock as their applications were rejected.
They went searching for reasons and found that a large area in Swamiyarmadom, Sasthavattom, Mangattukonam, Chanthavila, Moozhinada, Ayirooppara, Madavoorpara, Kattayikonam and Chengottukonam where their land is located had been marked ‘Proposed Institutional Area’ in the draft master plan for Thiruvananthapuram published late last year.
In the master plan, these areas are marked in a red grid pattern. It lists the ‘Proposed Institutional Area’ under the special use zones category. Residents of these areas, around 20 km from Thiruvananthapuram city, are fiercely opposed to their houses and agricultural lands being taken away for the ambitious master plan project of the government.
The Rs 2,700-crore project was drafted based on a satellite survey made in the year 2001. The local people allege that even that survey was wrong as, according to it, there were only 90 families in the area. However, in reality, these areas are all densely populated with around 3,500 families living on 3-4 cents of land each. As per the project, around 1,000 acres of land will be acquired from places that come under these two divisions.
Meanwhile, the government, from February 1 onwards, has stayed all dealings with regard to the land. Banks have also stopped giving home loans. The master plan prioritises ‘decongesting’ the core of the city by moving major institutions such as Central Jail at Poojappura, the Regional Cancer Centre, Nano Technology Park and the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology to these areas.
Over the past decades, many a times the residents have parted with their land, either for the university or Technopark, or for road-widening. According to the people, they were not against development. But they find it hard to part with their last piece of land and livelihood. Several action councils have been formed to address and solve the issue. “More than 3,500 families will be affected by the move. As the land is marked, even if the people want to sell the land, no one will buy it. And without building permits, nothing can be done on the land,” said Ramesh, an action council chairman.
“The government should kill us before acquiring our land. My land yields a produce which helps me and other family members to survive,” said Babu, a resident of Chanthavila.
“It is not just some individuals who are worried. The entire populations of Chanthavila and Kattayikonam divisions face a threat to their livelihood. No political party is involved in the protest,” said Suresh of Madavoorpara. The villagers have now threatened to intensify their agitation.
However, M A Vahid MLA said that no move that was against the public would be implemented.
* Local people allege that around 45 acres of land belonging to real-estate lobbies at Kattayikonam was not marked for the project.
* A flat that is under construction at Sasthavattom is also not included in the master plan and is exempted from the project.