Munnar: Land encroachment which has both civic and environmental ramifications is often blamed on the nexus between politicians and mafia. Despite occasional actions against the menace, vested interests corner land both in urban and rural areas, often bordering ecologically sensitive areas near forests and hills as in the case of encroachments in tourist paradise Munnar in Kerala's Idukki distict. It has come to light that certain CPM leaders in Kerala are allegedly reaping the benefits of the state government's move to levy fine and regularise encroached land and unauthorised buildings in Munnar.
The Kerala government is suffering losses to the tunes of crores of rupees with the concerted move to regularise land usurpation. The government is losing several acres of land that are under its various departments at Munnar.
The government had decided to regularise encroachments of land of up to 15 cents and building with an area of 1,500 sq feet by levying fine. Most of the beneficiaries of this decision are from the Ikka Nagar and Rajiv Gandhi colony areas in Munnar town. However, there are few landless people among them. Local politicians and their benamis have mostly taken over the land illegally in this region. Most of them are CPM leaders, it was pointed out.
The land belonging to electricity board, PWD, education, and revenue departments was encroached upon. As only small plots of land were encroached, they all stand to benefit from the government order. People, who have encroached upon more than 15 cents of land, are less in this region. However, there are several buildings with more than 1,500 sq feet of area.
Though the government move was to protect the poor and landless, the actual benefit would be reaped by the land mafia, it was alleged.
The whole land rules would be meaningless with even the so-called Raveendran Pattayams would be among those that would be regularised. (‘Raveendaran Pattayams’ refer to a few controversial title deeds issued in 1999 by the then Additional Tahsildar of Devikulam M. I. Raveendran.
Those who had earlier been evicted for violating the land rules might approach the court, claiming the property.