The Revenue officials have resumed eviction of massive encroachments in Munnar hill station and its surrounding areas by demolishing a huge cross erected on a hillock in Pappathichola, an ecologically sensitive spot in Devikulam Taluk. The cross was installed in the name of a believer’s group to justify the land grab.

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

A heavy deployment of police personnel has been stationed in the area, fearing protests. Prohibitive orders are also in force in the area. Even though the local people tried to block the road to Pappathichola by parking vehicles on the road, the police removed the obstruction using excavators.

A private individual illegally occupied 200 acres of land in Pappathichola and erected a big cross in the middle of the plot. The cross was demolished using a excavator. The revenue officials also demolished four sheds put up in the plot and set the debris on fire. 

Related: Munnar crackdown to resume despite war of words between CPM, CPI

 When a team headed by Devikulam Sub Collector Sreeram Venkitaraman tried to attach an illegally occupied plot on 12 April, a group of CPM workers had stopped them and allegedly manhandled them. The incident sparked off a political controversy in the state and frayed the nerves in the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Related: Mani and Munnar strain CPM-CPI relations once again

There were reports that political leaders, including the local leadership of the CPM, were involved in the land grab and in forging land title deeds. There were attempts to fan religious sentiments to protect the encroachments. The land grabbers widely use religious symbols to cover up their illegal activity.

Related: Munnar politicians threaten media for exposing land grab

The Revenue Department is now planning to evict big encroachments, strictly following legal procedures. After evicting encroachments into public and forest land, the special Revenue team will crack down on resorts built violating leasing norms. As per an estimation of the Revenue Department, hundreds of resorts have mushroomed in Munnar and surrounding areas in violation of land assignment rules and leasing terms.

Related: Land grab by CPM legislator: Chief Minister’s claim falls flat