Leader of the Opposition Ommen Chandy on Thursday said the government lacked clarity on the issue of encroachers in Munnar and the visit of the United Democratic Front (UDF) team was prompted by the unprecedented encroachments looting the government-owned land.
Addressing media persons at Chinnakanal, Mr. Chandy said the Idukki District Collector in his affidavit before the High Court had pointed out that there were large scale encroachments in Chinnakanal, detailing the persons who had encroached on the government land.
“We do not oppose evicting any UDF man who had encroached on the land in Munnar, but will support it,” he said and added that the UDF was united in its support in taking legal action if the Kannan Devan Hills Plantation Company holds government land illegally under its custody. After a month since the cabinet-sub committee's visit in Munnar, no action was taken against the encroachers, he said. For the past four years after the Munnar encroachment issue came to light, the government still says that the survey in Munnar areas has not been completed, he said.
Alleging that the government was openly supporting the encroachers, Mr. Chandy said the CPI(M)’s allegation that men belonging to all political parties had encroached upon government land in Munnar was a ‘ploy' to justify the encroachments and to extend open support to them. He said the allegation against UDF convenor P.P. Thankachan that he had encroached hundreds of acres of land was aimed at protecting the real encroachers.
In the District Collector's affidavit, Mr. Chandy said the names belonged to the CPI(M). The UDF’s stand is to evict them legally and reclaim each piece of land, he said.
He said the government had taken enough time to evict the encroachers but lacked the will to do so.
Mr. Chandy said the UDF had expected that after a Cabinet Sub-Committee discussion, the Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, in consultation with Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran and Forest Minister Binoy Viswom would take concrete action in evicting the encroachers. “It did not happen,” he said, and added that the issue should not be seen in a political light. The UDF, both in the Assembly and publicly demanded that action should be taken against the encroachers. It is the united stand of the UDF, but the government was openly supporting the encroachers and protecting them, Mr. Chandy alleged.
Mr. Chandy said the UDF will organise a public rally at Nedumkandam on March 19 for protecting the rights of farmers and take action against the encroachers in Munnar and other areas in the district.
The UDF team comprised Kerala Congress (M) leader and former Revenue Minister K.M. Mani, Indian Union Muslim League leader P.K. Kunhalikutty , Janata Dal (Secular) faction leader M.P. Veerendrakumar, CMP leader M.V. Raghavan and K.B. Ganeshkumar MLA.
The team earlier visited the alleged encroached areas in Munnar Town, Kundala, Lakshmi estate and Devikulam.