Munnar - a birds-eye view

Politicians in Idukki have mooted a dual strategy to corner land in Munnar. They want to share Munnar town with traders. They have also earmarked part of the forest lands for apportioning among themselves. So, they oppose notification of 17922 acres of forests in the Kannan Devan Village as reserve forests.

The Munnar Ordinance was proposed to take over 1073.5 acres of leased land in and around the town from the KDH Plantation Company for development as a tourism centre. The plan is actually to issue titles to traders and others. It is not likely that anything in the form of planned development of Munnar would materialise during the tenure of the present government. Owing to legal hurdles, Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan has withheld reissue of the Ordinance.

Though the Central team and the Committee of Secretaries deputed by the State government has found that there were no encroachments on 17922 acres of land in possession of the Forest Department, the government is yet to notify the land. Forest Minister Benoy Viswam, who proposed the notification, faced Opposition in the Cabinet on the ground that there were settlers on the land and that some land would be needed for development and issue of titles to poor.

Now that the Central team has found that the land in question is forests without any encroachment, the Minister again pushed the proposal to notify the land. However, the LDF wanted it to be discussed in its State committee. From the State committee, it has been referred to the Idukki district committee. The views and plans of the district committee in the matter are already known. If the government went with the district committee, nothing other than further alienation of government lands would happen.