Munnar’s illegal constructions to be demolished

January 30th, 2010 - 6:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Munnar (Kerala) Jan 30 (IANS) All encroachments at the popular Munnar hill station, including by the Tatas, are illegal and will be demolished, a Kerala minister said Saturday.
A seven-member cabinet sub-committee of Kerala inspected the two check dams constructed by the Tatas here Saturday and termed the constructions as illegal.

“From what we have seen, it is clear that they have spent may be Rs.two or Rs.three crore for the construction of these check dams and it has to be inquired why they did that. We have asked the district administration to see that these are demolished,” State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters after rounding of the visit to several places where encroachments have taken place.

The seven-member team reached Munnar for an on the spot inspection after an emergency meeting of Kerala’s ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) liaison committee here Friday asked the V.S.Achuthanandan government to take strong steps against all encroachments at Munnar, including by the Tatas.

Balakrishnan said that a detailed report on their visit would be submitted to the state cabinet that meets Tuesday. Besides, a report would also be filed in the High Court.

“We have found out that some of the resorts here came up almost eight years back when the state was ruled by the Congress-led United Democratic Front. Maximum encroachments took place here when the UDF ruled the state. We will also look into the role of government officials,” Balakrishnan said.

Located 2,500 feet above sea level, Munnar in Idukki district is often called the “tea town” of Kerala as it has more than 50,000 acres of tea estates, first owned by James Finlay and Company. Changing hands a few times since then, it is now with the Tata Tea since 1983.

In one of his last judgments ahead of retirement last week, Kerala High Court Chief Justice S.R. Bannurmath lashed out at the Achuthanandan government, saying “green” Munnar has now become “brown” Munnar because of the widespread encroachments by the rich and mighty.

Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy visited Munnar Thursday and said the Achuthanandan government has failed miserably in containing encroachments.

In reply to a question on whether encroachers would be evicted, Balakrishnan said that irrespective of big or small encroachments, legal steps would be taken against all those who have violated the law.

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