The Congress-led opposition is to organise a protest in the picturesque hill station of Munnar in Idukki district on April 4 against "widespread encroachment".
Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala who visited Munnar told reporters in the state capital on Tuesday that there is an unprecedented construction boom going on in Munnar to take the full benefit of the blooming of blue Neelakurinji ('Strobilanthes kunthiana'), which happens once in 12 years and is due next year.
"I personally visited the place and saw for myself large-scale encroachment of government land by the CPI-M. Those who have reacted in the negative to the widespread reports of encroachment include two CPI-M leaders, State Power Minister M.M. Mani and local legislator S. Rajendran. It was Mani who said that if anyone tries to ward off encroachers, their hands and legs would be chopped off, while Rajendran said any official who tries to work against this would have to crawl," said Chennithala. He also pointed out that numerous construction activities are going on to capitalise on the blooming of Neelakurinji, when tourists arrive in large numbers to soak in the spectacle.
This amazing spectacle occurs once in 12 years. Next year from August to October the entire Munnar hills will be covered in shades of blue as the Neelakurinji flowers will be in full bloom.
"We are proposing to the state government to see that a special Munnar Development Authority be formed and the rules for construction should be specific to Munnar and its topography," said Chennithala.
Former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan while in office 2006-11 had appointed a three member special team that razed down numerous buildings, including resorts built on encroached land. Addressing reporters here, Achuthanandan on Tuesday blamed the previous Congress-led government which he said did nothing to prevent encroachment.
But the veteran in reply to questions on the role of Mani and Rajendran - both of who are his party colleagues, said that none has any doubts on the role played by his party colleagues with regards to encroachment.
Both Mani and Rajendran hail from Idukki district. The former, a veteran trade union leader, was for several years the district secretary of the CPI-M, and the latter a three-time sitting legislator from Munnar. Both have for long been criticised for their alleged role in helping encroachers
"I do not want to respond to the statement of Achuthanandan. I really have doubts if he (Achuthanandan) has really understood Munnar and the real issues," Mani told reporters here.
Rajendran in the past few days has come under attack after reports surfaced that he has built his home on usurped land, a charge he has flatly denied.