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Additional resources for Agrarian Class Conflict: The Political Mobilization of Agricultural Labourers in Kuttanad, South India

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43. 3 Sources: Report of the Kuttanad Inquiry Commission, p. 7; District Census Handbook, Alleppey, p. 51; Aiyer, Keralathinte Sambadvyavastha, p. 43. 7 The principal raw material for the industry is coconut husk, which is abundant in Alleppey and the surrounding areas. As the industry expanded, labourers were recruited from the rural areas near Alleppey. During the period between the two wars branch factories, as well as small independent factories, sprang up all along the coastal strip of the backwater area.

Thus, out of the 27 in Alleppey district who own 20 or more hectares of land, 20 are in this taluk. The fact that these figures represent a sample of 20 per cent means that this taluk may have a total of 100 landowners of this kind. This need not be an overestimation. It has been well known that there is a small class of large cultivators concentrated in the kayal areas of lower Kuttanad. A sample survey conducted in the kayal areas of Kuttanad by two economists from Kerala University during the crop year of 1962 reveals a pattern of large landholdings that stands out, as the authors themselves remark, in sharp contrast to the subsistence farms in the rest of Kerala.

48. ECOLOGICAL FEATURES The basic ecological datum about Kuttanad is that it is waterlogged; its paddy fields lie below mean sea level and are submerged under water during the greater part of the year. As a result, both human habitation and agriculture have been made possible only by a highly labour-intensive process of reclamations. 9 km2 have been raised 1 to 2 metres above water level and converted into garden lands mainly used for human habitation and coconut cultivation. 14 Garden lands become more extensive as we approach the upper Kuttanad area, that is, the relatively shallow deltaic regions of the rivers.

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