Rampant encroachments and illegal constructions going on with tacit support of political leaders

Almost exactly a decade after the much-debated ‘Munnar Operation’ launched by the V.S. Achuthanandan government, Munnar appears all set to return to the centre of political debate in the State over the same issues of rampant encroachments and illegal constructions.Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and BJP State president Kummanam Rajasekharan would be in the hill resort over the coming two days to look into the allegation that the CPI(M) district leadership is thwarting attempts by the district administration to launch a drive against encroachers and illegal builders.The ‘Munnar Operation’ which ended without achieving much would turn 10 years in June this year. Munnar, which is part of the Western Ghats, has been witnessing uncontrolled developmental activities with the covert support of political leaders.

The illegal constructions, mostly on the encroached land, could not be stopped by the Munnar Operation and revenue records show that illegal constructions have only flourished despite the many stop-memos issued to them by the district administration. Stop-memos were issued to as many as 120 illegal multi-storeyed buildings under construction. When there was no positive response, the Revenue Department had initiated criminal proceedings against 50 builders.The Assembly Committee on Environment had recently sought creation of a Munnar Development Authority to oversee construction activity in the sensitive hill resort area and called for steps to check the ongoing illegal constructions. The State Land Revenue Commissioner too had, in a report, apprised the government of the seriousness of the situation and sought urgent measures to restore alienated revenue land and to put an end to illegal constructions, something that the Kerala High Court had stressed upon in a verdict in 2010.Mr. Chennithala and Mr. Rajasekharan are arriving in Munnar even as an agitation launched by the CPI(M)-led Kerala Karshaka Sanghom over alleged refusal of the district administration to accept land tax from farmers in the Anchunadu valley and refusal to issue no-objection certificates for construction of dwelling units.

 

The agitation is currently on in front of the office of the Idukki Sub Collector whom the Sanghom has accused of having handled the issue without sensitivity. However, the Opposition is of the view that the Karshaka Sanghom agitation is intended only to thwart the attempts of the administration to put the brakes on encroachments and illegal constructions.

The library is housed in a 4,000-sq m building at Vellanikkara

The Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) Central Library will extend its services to non-KAU students, teachers, researchers, farmers and other members of the public.The library, housed in a 4,000-sq m building at the KAU headquarters at Vellanikkara, Thrissur, coordinates the Kerala Agricultural University Library and the Information System (KAULIS) that consists of Central Library and six college libraries and research stations spread all over Kerala.

 

The library, with modern facilities and resources, has science books and journals, books on literature, entertainment, and cinema as well as more than 3,000 online journals.Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar will inaugurate the library service extension at a function in the library on Saturday. Thereafter, the library will function from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m, including up to 2 p.m. on Sundays and second Saturdays.The digital library comprises thousands of highly priced reference books in economics, statistics, agriculture, biology, career, farming. The web catalogue of the books in the library and the details with abstracts of all theses in KAU can be searched by anybody from anywhere.“A click on the KAU icon in the website (www.egranth.ac.in) leads to the e library index. It opens an unlimited world of knowledge. Now anyone logging on to the Central Library website can access the details of books in any library under KAU with ease,” said KAU Vice Chancellor P. Rajendran.

Rs. 15.37 crore allotted by Tourism Department for district

The tourism map of Wayanad will have more destinations soon with the Tourism Department allotting Rs. 15.37 crore to tap the potential of the hill station.The fund would be utilised for developing new tourism destinations and improving infrastructure at existing ones, Tourism Department sources said.A sum of Rs. 1.04 crore has been allotted for promoting rock adventure tourism on the Cheengeri hills near Ambalavayal. A ticket counter, cloakroom, entrance pavilion, reception block, lobby, and parking area would be set up on eight acres of land in the first phase, the sources said.For the second phase construction of the En Uru (My hamlet) tribal tourism project at Lakkidi, Rs. 4.53 crore has been earmarked. An interpretation centre, cafeteria, workshops for tribal artisans, and a herbal medicine shop would be set up in the second phase.The department has granted Rs. 1.19 crore for the second phase construction of a war memorial at Mavilamthodu, near Pulpally, where Pazhassi Raja, who fought against the British in the jungles in the early years of the 18th century, was killed.The department has already granted Rs. 2.15 crore for destination development works at Priyadarshini Tea Environs at Pancharakolly, Kanthanpara waterfalls, Kuruva islands and Karlad lake under the Green Carpet project.

 

The third phase works of the Karapuzha tourism project will begin soon. Works such as the construction of a lotus pond, a watch tower, mural paintings on aquaduct, butterfly and bamboo park, musical fountains, and a solar power ferry would be carried out in the third phase at a cost of Rs. 4 crore.Apart from this, Rs. 2.8 crore has been earmarked for the renovation of roads to Chembra peak and Kanthanpara waterfalls.

For the first time in the State, 14 grama panchayats in the district were declared ‘corruption-free’ by the State government on Friday.Declaring the local bodies as corruption-free, good governance panchayats, K.T. Jaleel, Minister for Local Self-Governments, said the State government hoped to declare all the panchayats corruption-free during the next four years.That the Panchayat Department and Vigilance and Research and Training Centre had jointly held a survey and found 14 of the panchayats come under the definition for being ‘corruption-free’ was an important landmark, he said.

The grama panchayats that have been declared corruption-free are Mutholi, Thalappalam, Kaduthuruthy, Poonjar, Elikkulam, chirakkadavu, Kanjirapplly, Koruthode,Pampady, Kangazha, Thrikodithanam, Njeezhoor, Maravanthuruthu, and Veliyannoor.

Vigilance report

Dr. Jaleel referred to the recent report by the Vigilance Department which had found the panchayats to be the most-corrupt in the State and said the local bodies should take a self-critical look at the report.He said the government was engaged in an effort to bring in more transparency in the governance of the local bodies.The portal for the people can be used to upload any complaints regarding the officials of the department, he said.

Stringent action

 

He pointed out that the State government was moving ahead with the initiative to redeploy the government employees and giving more teeth to the senior officials and elected members in taking stringent disciplinary action against erring officials.Mons joseph, MLA, presided. District Panchayat president Joshy Philip, District Collector C.A. Latha, Vigilance SP Johnson Joseph and others spoke.

Saji Kazhakuttam develops new technique by using paint and white sand

Inspiration often strikes in the most bizarre ways. For artist Kazhakuttam Saji, it was a moment of clumsiness in which he dropped a glass tumbler that led him to take up glass murals, an art that he has now perfected.

Saji, who has been doing oil paintings for the past 15 years, painted on one side of a broken glass piece and turned it over to realise that the colours appeared to be darker on the other side. This struck his imagination, leading him to develop a technique to create murals on glass with the use of paint, white sand, and Araldite, a brand of industrial adhesive.Since then, there has been no looking back, with 21 glass murals, inspired by the mural art on the walls of the Guruvayur and Mammiyoor temples, completed in the last four years.

A native of Pullattukuriyil, Kazhakuttam, Saji was employed at a petroleum company in Abu Dhabi for nine years till 2014. Though he has no received no formal training, he loved art, and would spent his after-work hours painting. It was when his Managing Director chanced upon these paintings, and arranged for them to be exhibited at the National Exhibition Centre in Abu Dhabi that he gained recognition as an artist.

 

Saji’s paintings have appeared on Bakrid and Eid greeting cards in Abu Dhabi, and he has also been commissioned with the task of painting a portrait of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and former president of the United Arab Emirates.

Says about four lakh people landless in the State

Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekharan has said that the LDF government is committed to resolve the issues related to the landless people in the State.He was inaugurating a seminar on development, organised by the district unit of the CPI on the occasion of the 40th death anniversary of T.V. Thomas, here on Friday.

About four lakh people were landless in the State. Efforts were under way to tackle the issue at various levels. The government was aiming at all-round development. Various schemes were being implemented for supply of drinking water, waste management, organic farming, and education. Development programmes should be able to bring about an improvement in the living standards of people, he said.

 

Talking to mediapersons, the Minister said there were no differences of opinion among the LDF constituents on the issue of removal of encroachments in Munnar. Eviction of encroachments was the policy adopted by the government. The government would take appropriate measures after getting an official report on the encroachments, he said.The concluding session of the seminar was inaugurated by Civil Supplies Minister P. Thilothaman.CPI district secretary T.J. Anjalose presided over the meeting.