A swanky Rs. 10-crore luxury resort in the picturesque hill town of Munnar was on Saturday evening razed to the ground, as the demolition drive against illegal structures in Munnar resumed after a week.
A three-member Special Task Force constituted by Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan has over the last three weeks demolished nearly three-dozen resorts and hundreds of acres of encroached land have been recovered by the state government.
The Cloud Nine resort, which faced the axe on Saturday as it was on land on which no constructions are allowed, was built in 2003 and two of the partners in the venture are related to former revenue minister and Kerala Congress (Mani) chief KM Mani, who has been a member of the state assembly since 1966.
The resort owners had rushed to get a stay against demolition from the Kerala High Court which rejected the plea and gave them 24 hours to vacate the premises.
And as soon as the deadline ended in the evening, five bulldozers moved and brought down the 24-room resort.
Meanwhile, the demolition drive continues to invite criticism from many quarters.
Last week, a portion of the Communist Party of India (CPI) office here was razed, irking the second largest constituent of Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF).
Angry CPI lawmakers KE Ismail and Panniyan Ravindran, who visited the party office in Munnar, lashed out at the task force.
"When they started their operations, we felt that they were on the right track but now we have doubts about their intentions. We don't think they are doing their job in the manner in which they should do," said Ismail.
A section of the Communist Party of India-Marxists (CPI-M) top brass, who met in Munnar, is reported to have expressed strong resentment in the manner the demolition drive was going on across the state.
The opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), on the other hand, was ready with a list of property that it said must be razed and accused Achuthanandan of not doing a "clean and fair" job.