Minister for Forest Binoy Viswom has said the State government has taken the Idukki Collector’s report stating as unauthentic the survey documents relating to 17,349 acres of land in Munnar in all seriousness.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function held here on Friday, Mr. Viswom said the forest department, in its efforts to implement the proposal to declare the land concerned as reserve forest, had based its action solely on the survey documents.

“The report by the Idukki Collector says that the survey reports based on which the forest department was working was not authentic. Since the report was by an official of the stature of Collector the government was viewing it with all the seriousness it deserves,” he said.

Hence, Mr. Viswom said, the government was determined to correct anomalies regarding the survey with the assistance of the Collector and all the departments concerned. The government would declare the land as reserve forest without any delay, which would be vital for Munnar.

“However, this process should not be allowed to delay inordinately since that would suit the designs of the encroachers. Hence, the forest department and the State government are of the view that the entire process should be completed in a time bound manner,” the minister said.

Asked whether by accepting the Collector’s report he was, in effect, admitting that the forest department had erred, Mr. Viswom made it clear that he was not for a showdown with the Collector. He said lack of clarity (regarding the authenticity of survey documents) should be cleared since encroachers exploited it to serve their purpose.

As long as such confusion and lack of clarity persist, big economic powers behind the encroachers would exploit it for converting Munnar into their fiefdom, the minister warned. “Whenever land was found to be under encroachment, all departments disown the land concerned emboldening the encroachers to claim it to be their land,” Mr. Viswom said.