Religion vs Public Land is what haunts the Left government in Kerala now with all the tension at Panchalimedu in Idukki district over erecting wooden crosses in the tourist hill spot. Apart from this, the temple situated in the public land has also added to the worries. The revenue department is for demolishing all the encroachment and retrieving the public land here with the cooperation of the church as well as the temple authorities. And if nothing happens and with no choice left, the officials are learned to take back the land by force.
Despite the revenue officials taking strong steps, it is religious sentiments that play the spoil sport. A sensitive issue, the revenue officials have been asked to be cautious while taking any action at Panchalimedu. Though the wooden crosses erected by church authorities were removed, the remaining concrete crosses still remain in the tourist spot, putting the government in a tight spot.plachimada
The revenue department is of the opinion that the land where the temple and the crosses stand is revenue land and should be taken back. If action has to be taken, the sources said that both the encroachments should be demolished and the land taken back. However, as the temple and the crosses symbolise religious sentiments and would have damaging effects, the officials are in a real dilemma, highly placed sources said.
Moreover, the Left that has already felt the Sabarimala effect in the recent parliament election does not want to burn their fingers again and as such they are much cautious, the sources said. However, they pointed out that panchalimedu has seen naked encroachment and the land should be taken back. “If not taken back, then it could send a signal that encroachments in the name of religion could stay, whatever happens,” they said.
Revenue Land of Dewaswam land
While the revenue officials note that the Panchalimedu was revenue land, the Travancore Dewaswam Board claims that it owned about 270 acres of land in the hill. The TDB says that the Bhuvaneshwari temple at Panchalimedu was the original place of Valliyangattu temple. The TDB also notes that the land belonged to the temple and had lost majority of the land at various times.
Meanwhile, the crosses are said to have been erected in 1954 as part of “Way of the Cross’ celebrated on Good Fridays.