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.