Estate land sold as plots in the area by using fake documents

Idukki Collector Ajith Patil has cancelled the ‘pokkuvaravu’ (transfer of registry or mutation) of the estate land sold as plots in the Wagamon area.

Mr. Patil told The Hindu on Tuesday that he had given instructions to revenue officials that no transfer of registry should be done in Wagamon and details of such transfers already done, if any, should be provided to him immediately. There are reports that vast tracts of tea estates at Wagamon are sold as plots to real estate groups and buildings are coming up on the land. The activity, being carried out with the alleged connivance of some officials, goes against the provisions of the Tea Act.

Mr. Patil said a letter from the office of the Collector endorsing the transfer of registry of an estate land at Wagamon on June 26 (before Mr. Patil took charge) had been withheld. He said that any transfer of registry done on the strength of the letter also stood cancelled.

Mysterious letter

The letter is said to have been issued without the knowledge of the then Collector T. Bhaskaran. Mr. Patil has sought an explanation from the officials concerned as to how the letter reached the Peerumade tahsildar.

The crisis-ridden tea estates at Wagamon, Bonami, and Kottamala (many of them closed down) are allegedly sold as smallholdings on the strength of a decision taken by the previous Left Democratic Front (LDF) government that 10 cents of land be given to estate workers who lost their jobs and that the arrears due to workers be paid. However, under the guise of providing land to the workers, estate land is sold as plots to real estate groups by making fake documents. The LDF government later cancelled all transfer of registry of land sold as plots at Wagamon.

However, on October 8, 2012, an order was issued to the Peerumade tahsildar to clear the transfer of registry of four acres of an estate at Wagamon and seven acres at Bonami, withholding an earlier order issued by the Land Board Secretary.

A subcommittee comprising Ministers, constituted by the present United Democratic Front government, had recommended that the land of the two estates was bought by small-time farmers and that the transfer of registry of the land be cleared. The Principal Secretary forwarded a copy of the recommendation to the Idukki Collector on June 3, after which the alleged letter found its way to the Peerumade tahsildar.

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