Kochi: The High Court has upheld the order of Devikulam sub-collector to take over 22 cents in illegal possession of private resort Lovedale in Munnar, dealing a direct blow to CPM and other parties favouring the petitioner. The court dismissed the petition filed by resort owner V.V. George, challenging the order of sub-collector Sriram Venkatram to vacate the land, which had been given for temporary occupation decades ago.
The revenue department submitted that the land in question was owned by the government and was identified for setting up the Munnar village office with a new headquarters in the town. The government had bifurcated the Kanan Devan Hills village and carved out a new village, but there was no suitable land or building within the town limit. The tahsildar had found the 22 cents suitable for the village office, where the resort has been functioning illegally. The occupier was liable to be evicted summarily as the land was required for government purpose.
A notice was served on Lovedale on June 9, granting two days to vacate the premises. But the next day the owner filed an appeal before the district collector, challenging the move. As per Kerala Land Assignment Rules 1964, the collector is not empowered to consider an appeal or a revision in this respect, the affidavit stated. The order for eviction has come as a morale booster for the revenue department’s anti-encroachment drive.
The High Court order has come as a rude jolt to local CPM and Congress leaders, who believe massive evictions are not practical in Munnar as it is not possible to dispossess people who had paid for the land. This put the CPI, which controls the Revenue Department, on loggerheads with CPM. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, meanwhile, expressed his disapproval of the revenue’s handling of issues in Munnar by calling a meeting, which Revenue Minister, Mr E Chandrasekharan (CPI), boycotted.