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Last Updated: May 20, 2007 - 10:48:48 AM
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Court refuses to stay demolition drive in Munnar
May 15, 2007 - 9:29:49 PM
The official team was unfazed by criticism.

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[RxPG] Kochi -, May 15 - The Kerala High Court Tuesday dismissed a petition seeking a directive to stop demolition of illegal buildings that have come up on public land in the popular hill station of Munnar.

The court's dismissal of the petition filed by the Abad Group that owns a resort in Munnar bolsters Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan's efforts to clean up the town.

It also asked the chief secretary to list out the duties and powers of a state government appointed three-member team that has been carrying out the drive since Saturday.

The government last Wednesday issued an ordinance to pull down all tourist resorts built on encroached government or forest land and formed the team, comprising Idukki District Collector Raju Narayana Swamy, Inspector General of Police Rishi Raj Singh and Suresh Kumar, an official in Achuthanandan's office, for the purpose.

Armed with a huge police team, the three officials have demolished more than 10 resorts.

Official records show that about 3,500 resorts have come up in the town in the last seven years.

Achuthanandan gave the green signal for the demolition following Revenue Secretary Nivedita P. Haran's recommendation.

After visiting the hill station April 28, the chief minister said the town had been destroyed by the tourist resort mafia which had encroached upon forest land.

Meanwhile, Achuthanandan's Communist Party of India-Marxist - is reportedly upset over the move and wants a change in the three-member team. A decision in this regard is likely to be taken at a cabinet meeting Wednesday.

However, the Communist Party of India -, the second biggest party in the ruling Left Democratic Front -, came out in support of the demolition drive, saying it had won people's support.

'The DLF government has taken a tough stand and this would continue unabated and all encroachers would be shown the door,' Revenue Minister and CPI leader K.P. Rajendran told reporters.

Ironically, the team had not sparred the ruling partner, and the front portico of the CPI party office in Munnar was pulled down Monday evening.

Munnar legislator E.S. Bijimol protested the move.

'We have been holding the title to 11 cents of land where the building stands since 1959 and it was in 1996 the land was transferred in former chief minister P.K. Vasudevan Nair's name. We feel the CPI is being targeted to help the real encroachers,' Bijimol told reporters in Munnar.

The official team was unfazed by criticism.

Suresh Kumar said that he was under no pressure and his only job as a government official was to do his duty and as long as he held this post he will do what he has been asked to do.

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