The bold initiatives by the Revenue Department to remove encroachments in Munnar has invited the wrath of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who scolded the district collector for removing a huge cross installed in public land illegally occupied by a Christian prayer group. The sharp reactions from the Chief Minister, his party and a section of the Catholic Church have cast a shadow over the Munnar eviction drive.

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After hearing the news of the demolition of the cross at Pappathichola in Devikulam Taluk, as per the instructions of Devikulam sub collector Sreeram Venkitaraman, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reportedly pulled up the district collector. “The move sent out a message that the LDF government is at war against the cross. The government will not support such drives,” Vijayan said at a public meeting in Kottayam. He also criticized the district administration for not informing the government about its plans.  The district authorities should have informed the state government before laying hands on the cross, Vijayan said.

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The CPM district leadership, including S Rajendran MLA had strongly criticized the Revenue officials for the early morning crackdown on Thursday. The CPM mouthpiece Deshabhimani went a step ahead and alleged that ‘Sangh Parivar agenda’ played behind the eviction move.  

Related:6000 acres and counting: Land, resort mafia thrive in Munnar

BJP state president Kummanam Rajashekharan demanded the Chief Minister to fully back the revenue team. "What is your relationship with the dubious prayer group Spirit in Jeseus that installed a huge cross in public land," he asked Chief Minister. 

The Congress was cautious in its response to Munnar crackdown. It backed eviction drive, but opposed the removal of the cross. “The Chief Minister was in the know about the operation. But now he is criticizing the Revenue officials to hoodwink the public,” leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said.


The concerted attack on the Revenue Department, despite the Revenue Minister and his party CPI rallying behind the special eviction team, has raised the apprehensions that the Munnar drive against encroachments would be halted just as it did in 2007. The differences between the CPM and CPI has come to the fore once again and the bilateral talks between the LDF partners have been postponed indefinitely following the stand off. 

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The revenue officials recently informed the state government that over 110 resorts are being constructed in Munnar and surrounding areas, flouting norms and land assignment rules. Land encroachments are also on the rise with over 6,000 acres of public land going into the hands of the land mafia.