Kerala to demolish illegal construction in Idukki hills

The government order comes amidst concerns of widespread land encroachment raised by various NGOs and environmental groups

| Updated: 30 September, 2023 1:05 pm IST
Kerala Government forms task force to combat illegal constructions amidst rising encroachment concerns in Idukki

IDUKKI: The Kerala government has set up a task force to conduct an anti-encroachment drive in the hilly district of Idukki, after complaints of widespread illegal constructions.

The move comes days after the Idukki district collector flagged the issue in a report to the state government.

 The task force will be led by the district collector and will include the sub-collector and revenue divisional officer (RDO). The district police chief will provide the necessary security, and the forest, public works department (PWD), and local bodies will assist the task force.

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The government order comes amidst concerns of widespread land encroachment raised by various NGOs and environmental groups.

In the first week of September, the Idukki district collector submitted a report before the Kerala High Court revealing 326 land encroachment cases in Munnar. Acting on the report, the court sought the opinion of the state government regarding setting up a task force to carry out a demolition drive.

In June, the high court imposed restrictions on building construction in Munnar. In an interim order, the bench of Justices Mohammed Mushtaq and Sophy Thomas prohibited the construction of buildings exceeding three storeys for a period of two weeks.

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The Kerala High Court has also been actively addressing numerous cases regarding environmental concerns and building constructions in Munnar.

Interestingly, the state government has also passed the Land Assignment Bill, 2023, which enables the sanctioning of constructions and related activities on title lands.

Until now, the land assigned under the Kerala Government Land Assignment Act could only be used for construction of houses, agricultural purposes, and public roads. Once the rules framed under the existing laws are amended, constructions such as party offices and resorts which were built under the violations of the conditions could be regularised.

However, Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan is yet to sign the amended Land Assignment Bill amidst concerns raised from few quarters, including environmentalists.

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