Government will run tourism in Munnar: Achuthanandan

October 9th, 2008 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Munnar (Kerala) Oct 9 (IANS) A master plan to turn Munnar into planned tourist destination will soon be ready, and the tourist activities in the hill station will be run by the state government, the state government said Thursday. “304 acres of land that was seized by us here will be used for tourism activities and would be run by the government,” Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan told reporters after leading a sub-committee of his cabinet here to discuss the issue of distributing land to the landless.

In March last year Achuthanandan gave orders to seize the land that was encroached upon by the tourism mafia in Munnar.

“In the operations that we launched last year, by now in Idukki district we have seized 16,000 acres. We have decided to hand over 1,662 acres of land in Munnar to the landless, which includes adivasis (tribals), plantation workers and others,” said Achuthanandan.

State Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran added that the land would be distributed in three months’ time.

“We will depute 150 revenue officials specifically for this and the distribution will happen in phases,” said Rajendran.

Munnar is a picturesque hill station bordering Tamil Nadu.

Over the years on account of the huge influx of tourists into Munnar, various resorts had mushroomed here which has led to large-scale environment problems.

State Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that a Delhi-based consultancy agency is preparing a master plan for developing Munnar into a planned tourism destination.

“We expect to get the master plan by January and we will be going ahead with the plan giving emphasis on preserving both the environment and heritage of Munnar,” said Balakrishnan.

He also announced that five more special squads would be formed to speed up the cases against the encroachers.

In the operations launched in Munnar since March last year, more than a dozen plush resorts have been razed and reports indicate that four dozen more resorts would be razed soon.

“We will request the high court to set up a special court to hear these encroachment cases,” said Balakrishnan.

State Congress party president Ramesh Chennithala, however, said Achuthanandan should first take over the land where the offices of the Communist party are located in Munnar.

“This is just a gimmick. He (Achuthanandan) is doing his best to redeem his image which is low on account of the poor and inefficient ministry that he is heading,” said Chennithala.

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