Kerala government had called for an all-party meeting to decide on continuing with the anti-encroachment drive in Munnar, virtually stalling the ongoing proceedings. The decision was taken at a high-level official meeting chaired by the Chief Minister. 

Officials were asked to take a different approach towards encroachers and settlers. Priority must be given to evict encroachers, an official release said. 

The meeting also decided to take measures to give land to landless and to distribute title deeds to settlers before January 1, 1977. A Pattaya (title deed) mela will be held at Idukki on May 21. 

The high-level meeting was held a day after controversy erupted over the removal of the 30-foot tall cross from encroached land in Papathichola. The cross was removed as part of encroachment drive. 

The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) had held a meet to discuss the issue, and the Chief Minister criticised the manner in which the cross at Pappathichola was pulled down. "He was dissatisfied and said the manner in which cross was pulled down could create a wrong impression. Pinarayi Vijayan also criticised revenue department for declaring Section 144 and for taking action without issuing a notice or informing the police," sources said. 

Also read:Munnar eviction drive: CM reprimands collector for demolishing cross

The meeting decided to resume eviction but in a more cautious and restrained manner. The meet also decided to focus on major encroachers than minor ones. 

However, the CPI was confident that they had followed all procedures. "There were no lapses and all proceeds, including the issue of notice, were followed. We want eviction to continue," CPI sources said.