Families in Chengara Await Land Titles for 12 Years

Reported by

Sooraj H SLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

April 5, 2021

Location of Conflict





Reason or Cause of Conflict

Other Kind of Land Use



People Affected by Conflict


Land Area Affected (in Hectares)






Land Use

In 1963, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) government passed the Kerala Land Reforms Act. This Act abolished the centuriesold JanmiKudiyan system. The major objective of the land reform was to give "Land to the Tiller". The Kerala Land Reform Act, 1963, imposes certain restrictions on ownership and possession of landed properties in the State of Kerala, which is known as "ceiling". The surplus land, above the ceiling limit, is taken away by government to be redistributed to the landless laborers and small farmers. Through the land ceiling law, the government expected to gather large surplus land but many landlords circumvented the legal requirement through bogus transfers, gift deeds etc. Also, the state has large sums of land in its hold still not distributed to the landless people in the state. In 2001, the Adivasis in the state organized a month long struggle under the banner of the Adivasi Gotra Mahasabha led by C.K. Janu. They demanded that 45,000 landless Adivasi families should be provided five acres each of cultivable land. On September 27, 2006, the Chief Minister of Kerala, V.S. Achuthanandan, gave a written assurance to the protesters that the government would allot land to a sizeable number of landless families by 31 December 2006. However, this promises were not met. In January 2007, as reaction to the broken promise, the United Struggle Front of the poor for Liberation (Sadhujana Vimochana Samyuktha Vedi, SJVSV) started the first attempt to reclaim land. They chose an estate of Harrisons Malayalam Ltd. The struggle was led by the Dalit activist Laha Gopalan, a former government employee and a selfproclaimed Communist Party of India worker. This struggle was called off due to the assurance by the Kerala Government that it would look into their demands and do the needful. The Chengara Package was promised to the protesters in 2009 by the state of Kerala. As per the package, the 1,432 families out of a total of 1,738 were to get land and financial aid to construct house. However, a majority of them declined to accept the land, saying it not fit for habitation or farming. Only 78 families got habitable land and the remaining 1,417 families were left in the lurch.In 2011, the second phase of the Chengara Struggle started which continues till today. The protesters have still occupied the land in Chengara estate. However, the people are deprived of basic facilities inside the estate. As per a report dated January 2020, at least 3,500 people belonging to 573 landless families occupy the Chengara estate. The people still live in miserable conditons. Despite repeated pleas to the State Government issued by the State Human Rights Commission, Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and State SC/ST Commission, the people still do not have ration cards, voter identity cards, and house number.

Region Classification


Type of Land


Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):



Starting Year


Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for promised land, Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Kerala State Revenue Department

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Chengara Estate, Harrison Malayalam Plantations

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

One Earth One Life, Sadhujana Vimochana Samyuktha Vedi, SJVSV, Laha Gopalan

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

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