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Kerala assembly witnesses arguments over encroachment in Munnar

Friday, May 12, 2017,13:57 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Thiruvananthapuram | Kerala assembly today witnessed heated arguments between MLAs of Congress led UDF opposition and ruling CPI(M) over encroachment and eviction drive in ecologically sensitive Munnar in Idukki district.
While Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan said the encroachments would be removed, opposition dubbed the attempt as an “eye wash”.
Replying to a notice for an adjournment motion moved by UDF on the alleged halt of eviction drive in Munnar, Chandrasekharan said the government’s priority was to save Munnar by preserving the environment and it would go ahead with eviction process.
He said eviction steps have not been stopped as accused by opposition.
Vijayan and Chandrasekharan rejected the UDF charge that the government had lost collective responsibility and the “Chief Minister and Revenue Department has different views on eviction”.
“This government is functioning with unity”, Vijayan said, adding, government, in tune with LDF promise, would distribute title deeds to those who settled before January 1, 1971. A title deed distribution mela would be held on May 21 in Idukki, he said.
Countering opposition charge that LDF was going back from its decision to declare around 32 sq km area in Kottakamboor and Vattavada villages in Munnar as “Neelakurinji National Park”, Vijayan said final notification in this regard would be issued by the government.
Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) is a rare purple-blue flower, which will bloom only once in 12 years.
Attacking the government, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that local ruling CPI(M) leaders were the main encroachers in Munnar and challenged the revenue minister, who is a CPI nominee, to take steps to evict the encroachments by them.
He said said the main hurdle in carrying out eviction drive in Munnar was the “differences” between CPI(M) and CPI over the issue.
Stating that LDF cabinet has lost unity, Chennithala said while revenue minister advocates for eviction of encroachers, power minister M M Mani, hailing from Idukki, was threatening officials engaged in eviction drive.
Seeking notice for the motion, P T Thomas (Cong) said the government had stopped the eviction drive under the cover of the row triggered over the removal of Cross from the encroached government land at Papathichola in Munnar last month.
With Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan rejecting their plea for a debate, UDF Opposition members staged a walkout.

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