When private plantations and corporates continue to occupy lakhs of acres of public land, public property given away to public sector companies are also disappearing without a trace, as is evident from the 597 acres of paddy handed over to National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) at Kayamkulam in Kerala. 


Nearly 600 acres of land, out of the 897 acres given free to NTPC to establish thermal power plant at Kayamkulam, is now at the mercy of sand mining mafia. Even though the NTPC has a 150-strong security wing of CISF personnel, it did not bother to take action against the encroachments. Numerous complaints submitted with the local revenue officials and police also failed to make a difference. 


Kerala handed over 897 acres of paddy land at Kayamkulam to NTPC without any condition in 1999. The corporation used 300 acres for the power project and the rest of the land went into the hands of the sand mining mafia. The huge bunds built by the state government in the 1960s to save paddy from up-tide did not stop the mining mafia from encroaching into the NTPC land. 


State government built the bunds in the 1960s to protect the low-lying paddy fields from the high saline tide. The farm land, locally known as Kayal farm, used to produce lakhs of tonnes of paddy until it was handed over to the NTPC. The sand mining mafia enters the NTPC land through the water-logged paddy fields and makes numerous trips a day. Now, there is no demarcation between the water-logged paddy and the NTPC land. Hudreds of boats are freely engaged in mining through out the day and night. 


The NTPC had filed numerous complaints with the Revenue officials and local police, but with no effect. The corporation has security personnel and a speed boat to patrol the area. But, it has not seized any boat for encroaching into its land. The reasons for the complacency of the state authorities and the NTPC towards the sand mining mafia remain perplexing.