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The Kerala government’s action against rampant illegal construction in the Munnar hill station in Idukki district has divided CPM and CPI, partners in the ruling Left Democratic Front. It was a decade back that then chief minister V S Achuthanandan launched a massive Munnar eviction, which had to be withdrawn half-way because of stiff opposition from CPM and CPI leaders.
But fresh trouble brewed in the government two weeks back after Devikulam Sub-Collector Sreeram Venkitaraman decided to crack the whip on encroachers in Munnar. He issued stop-memos to over 100 allegedly illegal multi-storeyed buildings under construction.
To take on the sub-collector, the CPM and its farmer outfit Karshaka Sangham have been staging an agitation in front of his office, demanding his ouster. The agitation is supported by CPM minister M M Mani and party legislator S Rajendran, who hail from Idukki.
The CPM has turned against the sub-collector after the ban on construction included houses of common people.
Snubbing the CPM stand, Revenue Minister and CPI leader E Chandrasekharan rushed to the support of the sub-collector, who is in the Revenue Department. The minister said the official was appointed to implement government policies and there was no question of removing the sub-collector. The government was determined to curb illegal constructions in Munnar, he said.
However, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan corrected the CPI minister. He told the media in Kochi on Monday that the sub-collector was working under the Chief Minister. The Revenue Minister has no role in transferring the sub-collector, said Balakrishnan.
The rift between the CPM and the CPI got new twist after it was alleged that CPM legislator S Rajendran was among those who had encroached 10 acres of government land in Munnar.
Rajendran denied the allegation, saying he had genuine documents for the land. He said Revenue Minister Chandrasekharan was being misled by the sub-collector.
On Monday, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the LDF government should take action against the CPM legislator who has usurped revenue land.