THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The officer who was a bit tough in removing illegal encroachments in the ecologically sensitive region of Munnar in Kerala has been transferred from his post.
The Kerala cabinet has shunted out Devikulam sub-collector Sriram Venkatraman to the post of employment and training director.
The young IAS officer attracted the wrath of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan by leading the drive to evict encroachers in Munnar.
The chief minister wants to appease the squatters by regularizing their occupations, much against the advice of the Revenue Ministry, which is headed by a CPI minister.
Sriram Venkatraman’s transfer came just a day after revenue minister E Chandrasekharan stated that the eviction drive would not stop.
Chandrasekharan and his party, the second biggest constituent in the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), have been giving unflinching support to the sub-collector.
The eviction of squatters had led to a direct confrontation between CPI and Pinarayi Vijayan’s CPM. A host of political leaders led by Devikulam MLA S Rajendran had met Pinarayi to lobby against the evictions, particularly the decision to take over a resort that allegedly occupied 22 cents of land in Munnar town.
Pinarayi Vijayan had expressed unhappiness after the Idukki district administration demolished a cross erected on encroached land at Pappathichola. He censured officials for carrying out the operation without informing the government.
The CPM-CPI tussle over the evictions reached a flash point last Saturday when Pinarayi convened an all-party meet to discuss the issue, ignoring the opposition of revenue minister Chandrasekharan.
The meeting was called after an all-party delegation from Munnar met the chief minister and opposed the eviction drive against the resort.
The government suffered a setback Tuesday when the Kerala High Court ordered the government to go ahead with the takeover of the 22 cents of land.
The order was a moral victory for the CPI.