Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 01 March 2024 11.11 AM IST

Mission Munnar


The encroachments in Munnar reeks of misgovernance and have been continuing for many years. Shockingly, these are not encroachments made by some financially distraught families who migrated to this place years back. This is not like some poor family grabbing three or four cents of government land to build a small house for shelter. There is more to this story of encroachments.

Most of these encroachments have the sleight hands of the richest people in business. The encroached lands are turned into resorts and estates. It is no secret that many politicians have been in cahoots with ultra-rich business magnates to assist them in creating resorts and high-rise buildings in this fragile terrain of Munnar. Officials who cooperated in this will be among the usurpers.

Munnar is often touted as one of the best tourist destinations in southern India and there are ample reasons for money to reach the squatters. The business has been running unhindered with money also coming in torrents to Munnar. This gang has now metamorphosed into a lobby that is superior enough to buy anything at a whim.

If news about illegal occupation or encroachment in Munnar reaches the court, the lobby will work its way to drag the cases for years and stymie a definite judgment. This is why evacuation missions often fail in Kerala. There will be no partisan of ruling or opposition parties in this, as politicians from all walks of life will sternly oppose any evacuation mission from the government.

In 2007, the VS government led a courageous mission to evacuate encroachments from Munnar but had to face the ire of his own party ally that is CPI. The mission failed eventually. Under the guise of this, the rich lobby continued to encroach again. The Pinarayi government has now reignited an evacuation mission. This is being done under the leadership of the District Collector. With the approval of the High Court, the evacuation is progressing this time.

The mission team has already evacuated a total of 229.76 acres in Chinnakanal village and Devikulam taluk. In many of these, the encroachers used to cultivate cardamom, pepper etc. It has been decided to auction the crop without destroying it.

MLA M M Mani was incensed with the government's move and lashed out against the evacuation mission. However, tensions flared when CPI this time supported the government move, much to the chagrin of MLA Mani. CPI leader clarified that this evacuation mission was a collective decision of the Left government.

At the same time, CPM district secretary C V Varghese boasted that the district collector would stop the eviction, but the claim fell flat as the collector denied this statement in no time. Amidst this political chaos, the mission is gradually progressing. Time can only tell whether the mission will reach fruition or not. Anyways, the discord within LDF will be a point of discussion in the coming days.

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