The residents of the village have unanimously told the government, which is formed by their own party, that they don’t need a highway.

Communist village in Kerala protests govt move to acquire paddy fields for road project
news Agitation Friday, September 15, 2017 - 14:34

Red flags line the 250 acres of paddy field in Keezhattur village of Kannur district. A communist village carrying the legacy of agitations is now forced to protest against its own party—the CPI (M). 

With senior grey-haired communists on the forefront, women, men, and children have been on a strike for past five days opposing the government’s move to acquire agricultural land for a national highway project. 

The residents of the village have unanimously told the government, which is formed by their own party, that they don’t need a highway and not to take away their agricultural lands.

“These paddy fields are our livelihood. Though they give crores as compensation we don’t need it. Filling these fields would cause huge dangers to this land. We will be on strike until the decision to acquire our lands is withdrawn,”  says C Manoharan one of the leaders of the agitation.

Manoharan says that earlier the highway was to go through another route, for which a notification was given and many had given away their land for the project. “Later they suddenly changed the route. We have now got a stay from the High Court,” Manoharan said. 

There are also allegations that the highway was rerouted to serve some individual interests.

“A corporate company had bought 32 acres of land nearby. They plan to build a township there, so it is their plan to fill the paddy fields using the waste soil after dredging their site. They need a place to dump it and we strongly doubt that that is why this area was selected,” Manoharan says.

Manoharan says that all the farmers, who own paddy fields, are unwilling to part with their land and every one of them is part of the protest. 

“When this huge highway comes, not only our paddy fields but many small hills will also be flattened. Keezhattur is the only village in Thaliparamba with a huge area of paddy cultivation.” Manoharan said.

Manoharan says that their constituency MLA, James Mathew has offered to provide drinking water through pipes under a drinking water scheme.

“Now we have abundant of drinking water here. We can just dip our hands into the well and drink it. Then why should they offer us pipe water? It’s is clear that after filling these fields there will be no water here,” he said.

Women in the village held a protest ‘Adukkala Samaram’ a few days earlier where they began cooking near the place where the protest was going on. All the while they shouted slogans saying they will not allow their fields to be filled with soil. 

The villagers are determined to continue a relay hunger strike until the government withdraws their decision. 

“This our duty as human beings. How can they call harming our livelihood and the environment development?” Manoharan said. 

Edited by Kannaki Deika


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