District collector H Dineshan has cancelled the title deeds of 55.3 acres of encroached land at Vagamon in Idukki.
An order issued by the district collector, has termed that Jolly Stephen, a resident of Ernakulam, encroached on the government land with the support of the revenue officials at Ranimudy in Vagamon.
The encroachment came to light after Stephen’s former wife Sherly filed a complaint before the police in connection with another land dispute.
Sherly and her mother Elizbeth owned 10.52 acres at Ranimudy in Vagamon. After their divorce, Sherly filed a complaint at the Vagamon police station that Stephen sold their land after creating fake documents.
The primary probe by the police found that Stephen had constructed some buildings on the land owned by Sherly and Elizabeth. Later a crime branch inquiry was ordered and in the probe it was found that acres of government land was encroached upon and sold by Stephen.
It was in 1989 that Jolly Stephen and his father K J Stephen bought 54.7 acres of tea plantation at Vagamon. But they also encroached the adjacent 55.3 acres of government land in the region, said the crime branch report.
It was found that 12 title deeds of plots under the ownership of Stephen were fake and were in the name of ‘unknown’ persons. It was found that the plots in the name of ‘unknown’ persons were secured through power of attorney. It was done with the help of government officials in Vagamon. The titles were issued over 36.93 acres, including government land in Vagamon village. The 20-page report submitted by the collector to the government said that the officials who had connived with the encroacher should be brought before the law through a Vigilance or crime branch probe.
District collector H Dineshan said: “After the encroachment, the plots were sold to resort groups. The district administration would attach the resorts and land soon. The government will not provide compensation to them”.
According to officials, there are nearly 200 resorts in the encroached land in Ranimudy.