Demolition of illegal construction in Munnar begins


Munnar (Kerala) : Police and forest officials in Kerala Tuesday swung into action against rampant encroachment of forest and revenue land that is threatening the contour of this picturesque hill station and razed two mobile towers.

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In capital Thiruvananthapuram, a government inquiry team headed by Revenue Secretary Nivedita P. Haran Tuesday submitted a report to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan on the encroachment and illegal constructions by building mafia.

"This report would be discussed in tomorrow's (Wednesday) cabinet meeting and proper action would be taken," said Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran.

Forest Minister Binoy Viswam, after a discussion on the issue with Achuthanandan, said the policy of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) government is complete eviction of encroachers.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in the capital after visiting the encroached areas in Munnar, former state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president C.K. Padmanabhan asked the state government to order a judicial probe immediately.

"The government has to set up a timeframe on how long it would take to complete the eviction of encroachers. We will wait for some more time and if it fails to evict the encroachers, we would start a campaign to drive out the encroachers," he added.

So far 20 revenue officials have been suspended for abetting the encroachers and after Wednesday's cabinet meeting steps against more erring officials are expected.

However, political parties from both the ruling and the opposition alliance have visited Munnar and have blamed each another for encroachments.

Speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, leader of opposition and former chief minister Oommen Chandy said the need of the hour is to drive out all the encroachers.

"Encroachers are encroachers. First they have to be driven out and no mercy need be shown to their political affiliations," said Chandy.

Kerala unit secretary of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Pinnarayi Vijayan has already asked the state government to demolish all illegal constructions in this hill station.

On April 28, Achuthanandan, after a visit to the hill station, said the town had been destroyed by the tourist resort mafia by encroaching upon forest land.