Staff Reporter

Cabinet sub-committee has not taken decision on pipeline imbroglio

Law secretary’s recommendations were sent on September 10

No decision on Vigilance probe into title deeds

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even after a month of the Law Secretary giving the ‘go-ahead’ to evict encroachers on the Ambalamukku-Kanaka Nagar stretch of the 33-inch cast iron pipeline bringing water from Aruvikkara to the city, the Cabinet sub-committee set up to deal with the encroachments is yet to decide on a course of action in this matter.

The Law Secretary’s recommendations on the encroachments were sent to KWA chairman and Principal Secretary, Water Resources, K. Jayakumar, on September 10. The government only has to decide on the procedures to be followed during such evictions, the Law Secretary’s report says. The sub-committee had, on the basis of a report submitted on August 27 by a committee headed by District Collector Sanjay Kaul, asked the Law Secretary to study all relevant documents relating to the encroachments and recommend a course of action.

The official explanation for this inaction is that the High Court has made the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) a party to the ‘stay’ given on any official proceedings against two properties near Kowdiar junction through which the pipeline passes. The stay was granted in cases filed by K.G. Abraham and builder ‘Heera’ Babu. The sub-committee’s stand —according to Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran — is that it would not be proper to evict those guilty of “minor encroachments” while the government is unable to evict “those who have connections in all the right places.”

“It would seem as though we are energetically pulling down a wall here or a gate there while the big fish remain untouched. We don’t want to do that. We want to be fair in this matter,” he told The Hindu on Saturday.

However, the sub-committee has also not yet taken a decision on the Collector’s recommendation for a Vigilance inquiry into how plots of land on either side of the pipeline that are registered as ‘puramboke’ in Revenue records, had been issued title deeds.

The Collector’s committee had recommended that action may be initiated against the encroachments as per relevant provisions of the Kerala Land Conservation Act and the Kerala Water Supply and Sewerage Act. It had also recommended that an inquiry be conducted into the fraudulent ‘transfer of registry’ (‘pokkuvaravu’) done during 2001-2005 on various plots of land in these areas.

From Kanaka Nagar to Christ Nagar School — a 752-metre stretch — the Collector’s committee identified three enroachments: a thatched hut, a gate of Christ Nagar School and portions of the school’s walls. In the 958-metre stretch from the school to the Salvation Army compound at Kowdiar, the committee identified 15 encroachments — five walls, three car porches, parts of six buildings and one bathroom of a house.

On the 400-metre stretch from the Salvation Army compound to the Kowdiar palace, the committee identified seven encroachments — land belonging to the palace, a portion of the building now in the possession of Abdul Shakeer, a portion of the land now in the possession of K.G. Abraham, a portion of the wall of ‘Snehatheeram’, a portion of the building of the Water Authority engineers’ association, a portion of the land in the possession of Geetha Murukan and a portion of the land in the possession of Peninsular Plantations.

On the 582-metre stretch from the Kowdiar Palace to the Narmada shopping complex, the committee identified 18 encroachments - four shops, five houses, three sheds of the KWA, a building of the KWA and portions of five walls.