The amendments proposed by the State government to the Kerala Paddy Land and Wetland Conservation Act, 2008, are unacceptable, social activist Medha Patkar has said.

Speaking at an interaction organised by the National Alliance of People’s Movements here on Monday, she said it was necessary that the law facilitating the protection of paddy fields and wetlands, which came after a participative democratic process, was protected in its original form.

Diversion likely

“The amendments rule out the role that was given to the local monitoring committee. It is also likely to facilitate diversion of paddy fields and wetlands in the name of government projects without a complete assessment of the environmental impact. Wetlands play a major role, like mangrove forests, in saving even the best cultivable land beyond those wetlands from getting eroded. Everywhere, the local people who understand the importance of these lands are at the forefront of protests against the attempts to water down laws protecting them,” she said.

‘Stand with the people’

Ms. Patkar said the LDF government was expected to stand with the people, at least on those issues which former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan supported.

“Unlike the other governments, there is a difference here, as the Left leaders are in various alliances like the Bhumi Adhikar movement to protest against the amendments to the land acquisition Act. We hope that the LDF government will respond to agitations and movements here. It is important that there are channels to facilitate dialogues between people’s organisations and ruling party leaders,” she said.

CRZ rules

She also demanded a rollback of the proposed amendments to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.

“All changes in the CRZ laws will kill the livelihood and rights of fish workers. The coasts are not a resource for tourism. The coastal lands are being usurped for corporates without any consent or consultation with the fish workers. The previous governments used to hold such consultations, but the Modi government never does this,” she said.

SARFAESI Act

Speaking about the protest by Preetha Shaji, a homemaker from Kochi who is facing eviction from her house over a small loan that was taken several years ago by someone else, she said there should be a relook at the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act).

“The family is being evicted over a loan of Rs. 2 lakh for which Preetha’s husband had stood as a guarantor. The Kerala government has understood the problem and has taken a position. But the High Court is not ready to understand. All the organisations should start a satyagraha in her support,” said Ms. Patkar.

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