The Cabinet Subcommittee, dealing with encraochments in and around Munnar, on Saturday directed the Idukki Collector to take legal steps to demolish two check dams constructed by the Kannan Devan Hill Produce Company at Lakshmi estate and Chittippara near Munnar in Idukki district of Kerala.
The subcommittee gave these directions after visiting the locations and making an on-the-spot assessment. The subcommittee also directed the removal of a gate and electric fencing at another estate of the Company for obstructing way of tribals to their colony and movement of elephants.
Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan later told a press conference that the Company had violated conditions of lease of government land and built the dams illegally. The dams obstructed the flow of water into hydel reservoirs of the State.
The Minister said the electric fence built by the company around its garden of medicinal plants breached the right of way of tribals and obstructed the movement of elephants. This was also illegal.
Mr. Balakrishnan said he had directed the authorities to check whether the resorts constructed by the Pulimoottil family was on encroached land and submit a report to the government. The government would not permit encroachment and provide the needed help to officials for taking action against encroachers.
He also announced that title deeds would be granted to the poor squatters who were eligible to receive government land. The government proposed to hold two more fairs for distribution of titles to the poor in the district, in addition to the one already held in the locality.
He maintained that difference of opinion within the LDF constituents over evictions would not affect the actions proposed to be taken by the government against encroachment. The details of action needed would be decided by the Cabinet.
Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran said that 52 cases had been registered against encroachers under the provisions of the Land Conservancy Act. The Assembly had recently passed an amendment to the Act enhancing the penal provisions.
Mr. Balakrishnan, who is also in charge of Tourism, said the Act passed by the House a few years ago for regulation of tourism would be implemented soon. He also claimed that the police teams deputed to investigate encroachments and forgery of land documents continued to function.
The subcommittee members could not explain the delays in taking action against the encroachers and failure to provide support to officials taking action against encroachers.
Forest Minister Benoy Viswam reiterated that notification of more than 17,000 acres near Munnar, which is in possession of the Forest Department, as reserve forest was under consideration of the government.
Earlier, the sub committee members, accompanied by district collector Asokkumar Sinha and other officials, visited the Lakshmi estate, Chittippara and the herbal and rose garden of Kannan Devan Company.
They also held discussions with officials and local politicians belonging to the LDF.
The member of the subcommittee included besides Mr. Balakrishnan, Mr. Rajendran and Mr. Viswam, the Law Minister M. Vijayakumar, Water Resources Minister N. K. Premachandran, Public Works Minister P. J.
Joseph and Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other Backward Communities A. K. Balan.