Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has said the Government will “handle” and deal sternly with those who encroached upon Government land in the Munnar hill station apart from initiating stringent action against officials who clandestinely supported the encroachers.
Inaugurating the new building for the Cooperative Academy of Professional Education’s (CAPE) Engineering College at Punnapra near here on Sunday, Mr. Achuthanandan said no encroacher would be allowed to go scot-free. The United Democratic Front (UDF) was criticizing the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government on the encroachment issue, forgetting that it was during the previous UDF regime that large-scale encroachment of Government land had taken place in Munnar.
The encroachers constructed huge buildings, hotels and resorts and for the past several years, were fleecing the public and minting money by charging room rents ranging from Rs.15,000 to Rs.25,000. The UDF Government was soft on the encroachers and by sitting idle, was not able to reclaim a single plot of land.
The LDF, on the other hand, had taken encroachers, including the Tata Group, head on and had reclaimed more than 12,000 acres of land. The special team sent to evict the encroachers had to be called back due to “health issues” faced by some of the team members, he said, pointing out that it was when the special team’s eviction came to a standstill that the encroachers became active again.
They had influenced some officials and with their clandestine help, managed to usurp more Government land and begin construction there. This had come to the Government’s notice. With some members of the public moving the court on this issue, the High Court has ordered the Government to evict the encroachers and to take action against erring officials.
Lauding the High Court for its order, Mr. Achuthanandan said the court order apparently was based on a thorough evaluation of the situation. The Government would waste any time to take action.
“Not a single one of the encroachers will escape. The Government will handle each one of them. The guilty officials, however big and influential they are, will be dealt with sternly,” he said.