15 sub-collectors in 9 years: Why Devikulam is witness to politico vs bureaucrat tussle

15 sub-collectors in 9 years: Why Devikulam is witness to politico vs bureaucrat tussle
Dr Renu Raj, Sriram Vinkitaraman and VR Premkumar.

Thodupuzha: Devikulam in Kerala’s Idukki district has been in the news for long over land encroachments. And the sub-collectors, who try to set the record straight, have often been reprimanded and transferred from the position. As many as 15 sub-collectors were posted at Devikulam in the past nine years.

Dr Renu Raj was the latest IAS official to be shunted out. Renu Raj was transferred in less than a year.

The sub-collectors, who take action against encroachments and land mafia, are promptly given the boot by the political top brass. Mostly, those who locked horns with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPM] leaders have had bitter experiences to narrate. The IAS officials, who reviewed the land where the party office was situated, were also transferred.

After the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government came to power in the state in 2016, five Devikulam sub-collectors--Sabin Sameed, NTL Reddy, Sriram Venkitaraman, V R Prem Kumar and Dr Renu Raj --have been transferred in a span of three years.

Three days after he evicted and pulled down a building constructed on encroached land in Munnar town, Sabin Sameed was transferred. NTL Reddy did not even get a chance to be in the post for a whole month.

Sriram Venkitaraman

After being appointed as Devikulam sub-collector, Sriram Venkitaraman took action on encroachments and examined the land records at Kottakamboor and Vattavada villages. His prompt actions put him in direct conflict with the CPM district leadership. Minister M M Mani, former Idukki MP Joice George, CPM district secretary K K Jayachandran and Devikulam CPM MLA S Rajendran had strongly criticised the IAS official. Sriram issued notice on holding a hearing into the land row involving Joice George at Kottakamboor, prompting the CPM leadership to evict him from the post instead.

V R Premkumar

Even though V R Premkumar had issued notice to Joice George, asking him to appear for hearing in the Kottakamboor land row, the politician did not turn up.

The official then cancelled the title deed in the name of Joice George and his family members at Kottakamboor. Though he was pressurised to retract his order, Premkumar refused to comply. And soon after, Premkumar was transferred.

Dr Renu Raj

Dr Renu Raj, who fearlessly took on the encroachers, had cancelled the controversial title deed of Joice George at Kottakamboor about two weeks ago. Though several notices were issued to Joice George, asking him to appear for the hearing, the former MP did not comply.

Renu Raj had taken a strong stand against the land mafia in Devikulam area. She had locked horns with S Rajendran MLA over removing the encroachment. The MLA had courted controversy after he remarked that the sub-collector lacked brains.

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