IAS officer Sriram Venkataraman shifted; Kerala Chief Minister terms it ‘routine’ transfer

Wednesday, Jul 5, 2017,19:43 IST By anju A A A

Thiruvananthapuram | An IAS officer who had taken a strong stand against encroachers on government land at the hill station of Munnar in Kerala’s Idukki district, was today shifted by the state government.

The state cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here decided to shift Devikulam sub-collector Sriram Venkataraman, who has been promoted and appointed as Employment and Training Director.

Speculation has been rife over the past few months about the IAS officer’s transfer after he took on encroachers at Munnar.

Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan, who had given full support for the eviction drive, said the transfer was routine.

“Can we insist that he should remain in the same post always?” he asked reporters who sought his reaction over the transfer.

The CPI, a constituent of the ruling LDF, had supported the eviction drive and had strongly backed the IAS officer.

Refusing to be drawn into any controversy over the matter, Chandrasekharan, a CPI nominee in the cabinet, said the change should be viewed as part of administrative process.

“It is not the party which decides on transfers. This change should be seen as part of administrative process. The official has been assistant collector and sub-collector for four years and the transfer is natural,” he said.

The government has appointed Wayanad sub-collector, Premkumar as Devikulam sub-collector. The new official will implement the government’s policy over eviction of encroachers, the minister said.

Congress leader Pandalam Sudhakaran said though the state government was well within its right to shift any official, the transfer of Venkataraman will only help in affecting the morale of upright and honest officers.

“The transfer of the officer is ‘unfortunate’ as he had waged a fierce battle against encroachers in Munnar,” he said.

Venkataraman had gained media attention when he brought down a 30-feet tall metal cross, put up under the garb of ‘spiritual tourism’ at Papathychola in Munnar, as part of an official anti-encroachment drive.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had expressed strong displeasure over the act.

The cross was put up on land allegedly encroached by a group of people calling themselves ‘Spirit of Jesus’.

At a meeting held to review the anti-eviction drive in Munnar, after the removal of the cross became controversial, the chief minister had come down on district revenue officials for the manner in which the religious symbol had been brought down.