THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the last one year, the government earned Rs 447 crore through land conversion in the state, revenue minister K Rajan said in the assembly on Wednesday.

Responding to a calling attention motion regarding the pending applications for land conversions in the state, the minister said that 100 years ago, as per the details of the settlement of land, there were 30 lakhs acre of paddy land in the state. In 1970, the extent was 20 lakh acre and when the area of paddy land was assessed 14 years ago, the extent had reduced to 5 lakh acre, he said.

The minister said that to address environmental issues and the reduction in area of farming land, the government had to introduce the act against conversion of paddy land and wetland in 2008. As per provisions of the act, while the conversion of wetland has been completely banned, paddy land can be filled only for construction of houses and for public purposes. Families that have no land other than paddy land are allowed to fill paddy land up to 10 cents in panchayat areas and up to five cents in municipality areas to construct houses, subject to conditions.

The minister said that all paddy lands that were in existence on the day on which the act came into force, are included in the data bank. However, there are provisions to exclude such paddy land from the data bank that was filled before the act came into existence and was still included in the data bank.

The 27A amendment in the act was introduced to change the status of the land that was filled before the act came into force, but is still recorded in the revenue records as paddy land or wetland.

As per this, no permission is required for constructing a house of area 120sq m in 10 cents and for constructing a commercial building of 40sq m in five cents of converted land. However, for other purposes, fees have to be remitted for conversion, he said.

He added that disposal of applications for land conversion up to 50 cents are being done on the basis of the village officer’s reports and for land conversions above 50 cents on the basis of the village officer and the agriculture officer’s reports and also based on the satellite images of the land.

Such stringent provisions have been included to ensure that land converted after 2008 are not regularised, the minister added.

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