It has been 1,850 days since the locals of Malayil Malappathur village started protesting, demanding the government return 144 acres of land handed over to private persons.
The stir, called the Veliyam bhoo samaram (Veliyam land stir), has been organised by the Kollam Paristhithi Samrakshna Samithi (Kollam environment protection council) and Pashchimsaghatta Samrakshana Samithi (Western Ghats Protection Council).
On Wednesday, they protested in front of the Collectorate in Kollam, Their major demands include recommending a CBI probe into the land deal to find out how private persons were able to buy the land, and finding a way to stop operations of the sand-crushing unit functioning on the land. Locals allege that this unit is harmful to the environment.
The government land, spread over an area of 144 acres, was assigned for rubber plantations under Special Rules. However, locals allege, it has now been falsely registered under Nandavanam Estate Private Limited Company.
The land was then divided into 9 parts, and parts were sold to Insroyal Property Developers Private Limited. Protestors say official records were tampered with by government officials for the deal.
â€śNandavanam is a family-owned trust. A false deed No.1202/58 was fabricated for Nandavanam estate and registered a sale deed No. 157/08 in the sub-registrar office, Pooyappally. In this way, the above land was registered using a fabricated deed. There is no other land scam in the state as big as what happened under a single survey number here,â€ť Advocate V Santhosh Kumar, district general convener of Kollam Paristhithi Samrakshana Samithi, told TNM.
The protesters discovered the scam when they agitated against the sand-crushing unit in 2016. â€śAt that time, we had accessed the details on the land and realised that there is a title deed from 2006. But in that, there was no mention about the previous ownership of the land and there were documents regarding the previous ownership of the land at the sub-registrar offices,â€ť Santhosh said.
He added, â€śWe then communicated this to the Land Revenue Commissioner and other revenue officials concerned, apart from complaining to the Vigilance Department and Anti-Corruption Bureau. The Vigilance Department registered the FIR in 2017. The first phase of the investigation was done properly, but, later, the investigating officer was removed. We have now intensified the protest as the investigation has lost its way. The scam should be investigated by the CBI. The Vigilance Department hasnâ€™t even checked the files concerned at the sub-registrarâ€™s office. Itâ€™s a land scam to the tune of Rs 100 crore. There is a specific directive from the Land Revenue Secretary that says government land possessed by private people should be taken back.â€ť
The protesters have now decided to move the court to seek a CBI protest.