Farmers in Kannur Protest Against Land Acquisition for Highway Project

Reported by

Sooraj H SLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

December 3, 2019

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Keezhattur is an agrarian village in the Kannur district of Kerala with large paddy fields which are also wetlands. The state government wants to acquire land passing through the paddy fields of the village for constructing a road that will bypass Taliparamba town as a part of a fourlane highway for NH 66 (Kochi to Mumbai) to avoid traffic congestion. For this, the National Highway Authority of India needs to acquire 29.11 hectares of land. Of which, 21.09 hectares are wetlands including paddy fields, which serve as the water recharge points for Keezhattur and nearby villages. Thus, the Keezhattur antiacquisition protest seeks attention into different issues. Beyond the antiacquisition agenda, there lies a major environmental controversy. Villagers have been opposing the Road Project to protect their lands from being destroyed. The agitating farmers call themselves Vayalkilikal (birds of the paddy field). When the protests started six months ago, it was a small protest by a mere 60 farmers of the village. Over the time it had converted to a huge struggle with support from various environmental activist groups, political parties and civil society organisations. The protest has been gaining momentum since. In March 2018, protestors threatened to immolate themselves and took over the paddy fields. However, police arrested 49 protestors to diffuse the tension. As per the news report, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change expert published a report in June 2018, which states that the project requires to be streamlined to ensure that most of the wetlands are saved. Also, it highlights the need for analysis of the possible effects during the peak of monsoon on the village. The report has strengthened the arguments provided by farmers. However, the  Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has already published the notification and is planning to go ahead with the acquisition. In August 2018, a delegation from Vayalkilikal had a meeting with the Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and now, plans on submitting suggestions and alternatives to save the wetlands. They are also planning to seek out legal aid, according to a new report.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

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Non-Forest (Grazing Land)

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Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws

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Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

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Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), Public Works Department, Kerala, National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NTPRC)

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Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB)

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Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

BJP, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM)

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Documented By

Sooraj H S

Reviewed By

Sooraj H S

Updated By

Sooraj H S

Edited By

Sooraj H SLand Conflict Watch

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