Thiruvananthapuram: The district collector of Idukki has submitted a report to the state government supporting the measures launched by Devikulam Sub Collector Dr Renu Raj, who had to face verbal abuse from S Rajendran MLA.
According to the collector, the construction of a Women's Industrial Centre by the Munnar panchayat in a portion of land where the Old Munnar bus stand is located was in violation of the existing laws as well as High Court judgments.
Rajendran's statement against the sub collector, who had issued directives to stop the construction without obtaining sanction from the Revenue Department, had kicked off a row. While the State Women's Commission filed a suo motu case against the MLA, details of the collector's report came to light.
The collector, in the report, said that the rule restricting the land leased by the government for other purposes was violated in the present case. According to the law, construction is allowed only beyond 50 yards of the Muthirapuzha River. But the Industrial Centre is coming barely six metres from the river. Moreover, this area had been inundated during the floods last year.
The concrete works of the 10-room structure at the northern end of the parking ground have been completed. Meanwhile, work on another 10-room building on the southern side has started. The Collector's report to the revenue secretary pointed out that allowing constructions within 50 yards violating rules would weaken the government's position in various litigations.
The collector also mentions that the sub collector had reported to him that the Devikulam MLA had ridiculed her in public and insulted her womanhood. A similar report has been filed by the Devikulam Tahsildar.
Excerpts from the Collector’s report:
“Sanction from the revenue department is necessary for carrying out construction activities in Munnar. The sub collector said that the work could not be allowed until the sanction is obtained. On the same day, the Devikulam MLA reached the Revenue Divisional Office and termed that the ban order issued on the work erroneous.
“The sub collector told the MLA that as per the law, the construction could not be allowed. However, the MLA did not heed the sub collector's words. When the sub collector learnt that the work was continuing despite the ban order, she sent officials to the site. But the officials were abused by the contractor and panchayat officials present there and the work went on.
“The sub collector contacted the panchayat secretary over phone and issued directives to stop the work. Police intervention brought the construction to a halt. The Devikulam MLA soon reached the spot and scolded the officials and issued a challenge to stop the work. He also called the sub collector over phone and demanded to know who had given her the authority to ban the construction.
“The sub collector told that MLA that matters had been explained to him in the morning. But the MLA questioned the sub collector for addressing him as “MLA” and demanded that it should not be repeated.
“When the sub collector learnt that people were gathering at the spot under the leadership of some persons, she asked the officials to return.
“The land where the building is located measures two acres under the Munnar village No: 1 special grant survey numbers 61/16, 17 with the title of Kannan Devan Hills Produce Company. The Company pays a lease rent equal to the land tax. In the year 2000, the Company handed over the land to the Munnar panchayat to use it as a parking ground based on an agreement. After the KDH Act came into effect in 1971, government land cannot be transferred.
“The right of the land lies with the government and use of leased land for other purposes is improper. Sanctions from Revenue, Local Self-Government, Police and Forest Departments are needed to carry out building construction in Munnar. The work carried out without these sanctions is violation of a High Court order in this regard. Orders have been issued to the panchayat secretary to stop the activity.”