The popular IAS officer was spearheading the anti-encroachment drive in Munnar.

Devikulam Sub Collector Sriram transferred out Promotion or pawn in a political battleSriram Venkitaraman/ Facebook
news Wednesday, July 05, 2017 - 15:37

The Kerala government has transferred Devikulam Sub Collector Sriram Venkitaraman out from his posting. The IAS officer was heading the anti-encroachment drive in Munnar, which has been causing a political storm in the state for several months now.

Sriram Venkitaraman will now be the Director of the Employment Exchange. While the government is portraying this transfer as a ‘promotion’, there are reports that the transfer was a direct consequence of his anti-encroachment drive.

The transfer comes after the Kerala High Court recently said it would not intervene in the sub collector's action to evict a homestay in Munnar. VV George, the owner of Lovedale homestay in Munnar approached the court challenging the eviction notice.

It was a meeting called to discuss this and other revenue issues that the transfer was decided.

Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan, who had supported the officer through the encroachments, called it a promotion and a routine transfer.

However, many reports indicate that with powerful  CPI (M) leaders like MM Mani openly challenging Sriram, his transfer was a given.

Read: ‘Will CPI raze down their own office?’ Man behind 2007 Operation Munnar speaks to TNM

The Munnar case

As the Devikulam Sub Collector, Sriram Venkitaraman launched an anti-encroachment drive in April this year. Believed to be backed by the state’s Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan - who belongs to the CPI - Sriram ruffled many feathers in the government with the drive in Munnar, especially in the CPI(M).

Ministers like MM Mani have publicly criticised the IAS officer for his actions, and so have several others in the CPI(M) including Devikulam MLA Rajendran, who has been accused by the opposition of encroaching land in Munnar.

In fact, when the Sub Collector ordered the razing down of a Christian Cross that was erected on an encroached land, even the state’s Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, slammed the IAS officer’s move.

Read: A massive cross was demolished in Kerala, but Christian groups didn’t protest. Here’s why

Who is Sriram Venkitaraman?

A popular IAS officer in Kerala, Sriram Venkitaraman quit a career in medicine to join the administration. The 30-year-old ‘Sub Collector Bro’ hit the headlines with the anti-encroachment drive, and has since caught the imagination of the public, with his image of being a ‘cool’ officer.

Read: Kerala's Sub Collector Bro: The anti-encroachment officer is taking social media by storm