The Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed the government order to fill vast tract of ecologically sensitive paddy-field and backwaters at Kumarakam in Kottayam, known as methran kayal, for a major tourism project proposed by a private developer.
The Congress government had given nod for reclamation of ‘the methran kayal‘ at the famous tourist destination at Kumarakam three days before the notification for the assembly elections was announced.
The government decision, which amounted to flagrant violation of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act-2008, had come under sharp criticism from the Congress itself.
Acting upon the petition of a farmer named Alexander, the bench of Justice Muhammed Mustaq ordered that status quo should be maintained in the issue and banned construction activities at the project site.
Last week, the government had issued an order allowing Chennai-based Rakindo Developers Pvt Limited to fill 376 acres of paddy field and backwaters at Kumarakam for a tourism project worth Rs 1,000 crore.
The government allowed reclamation of the paddy field, disregarding the adverse reports from the departments of agriculture, fisheries, environment and local self governing.
Besides, the Assembly subject committee too had registered its dissent for granting sanction for the proposed tourism project at the cost of paddy fields and backwaters. However, to overcome the objections raised by various departments, the government had got a report from the district collector, which said the proposed site was not suitable for farming.
As the government decision on the eve of election notification became controversial, Congress state president V M Sudheeran publically stated that the decision should be revoked. He said such controversial decisions do not bode well for a government at election times. He urged CM Oommen Chandy and Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash to review the decision taken by the revenue department.
The high court stay came at a time the government indicated that it was ready to revisit the controversial decision. The Opposition had alleged corrupt deal behind the decision.