Thiruvananthapuram, May 7 (PTI) Kerala government will soon initiate steps to evict encroachers of its lands in ecologically sensitive hill resort town of Munnar and there will be no compromise on this, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said today.
The first priority was to remove encroachers, especially the ‘big ones’ from Munnar. There would be no compromise on that, he told reporters after an all-party meeting convened to discuss the issue.
Sending a strong message to big encroachers, he said stern measures would soon be taken against them. Government received full backing at the all-party meeting, he added.
Besides the all-party meet, a series of other marathon meetings were held today with environmentalists, representatives of various religious and social organisations, media to seek support for the eviction of encroachers and protection of Munnar in the high-range Idduki District.
The government decided to hold the meetings after a controversy erupted recently over the removal of a 30-feet tall cross put up allegedly on encroached government land in Munnar. An evangelist was booked in this connection.
Vijayan had then expressed strong displeasure over the manner in which the cross was pulled down by the district administration.
The Chief Minister today said the government was also planning to bring in a comprehensive law to protect its lands.
‘Pattayams’ (land document) needed to be given to those who have encroached government land before Jan 1, 1977.
The government cannot prolong this further as over 40 years had lapsed, the Chief Minister said adding the aim was to complete the exercise within two years in a time bound manner.
At today’s meetings, several suggestions were made on protection of Munnar and government would look into them seriously and take an appropriate stand, he said.
Munnar was a ecologically sensitive area, rich in bio- diversity. There were forests, open areas, Shola grasslands which should be protected, he said.
Vijayan said rivers in Munnar have also become polluted and there was need to find a solution to keep it clean.
Besides the Chief Minister, Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan, Law Minister, A K Balan, Forests Minister K Raju were among those present at the all-party meeting.
Renowned poetess Sugathakumari said forest laws should be made applicable in Munnar to protect it from encroachers.
Munnar, situated about 1,600 metres above the sea level and dotted with plantations, was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British government in South India and now a favourite destination for tourists.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.