The construction of a hostel for non-resident Indian (NRI) students of Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), Chromepet, has begun amidst a growing concern among residents and representatives of civic groups that the management had not obtained the mandatory plan approval from any local body or government agency.

Officials at Anna University, under which MIT now functions, however have refuted the charges, stating all the necessary approvals were in place.

At present, the NRI students are living in rented accommodation around Chromepet. Ever since it was mooted that the 25-acre playground at MIT Annexe on Chitlapakkam Main Road be used for constructing the NRI hostel, residents of Chromepet, especially morning walkers and senior citizens, have been up in arms. They have stated that the playground and the walkers’ pathway would be permanently altered.

Residents were however hopeful the land, which is found near the main road, and is abutting the six-lane athletic tracks of the playground, would be spared and the hostel would be constructed in the north-western corner.

However, preliminary construction work commenced on the eastern side of the annexe premises, near the main road, about 10 days ago. Residents then came together, made enquiries with government agencies and have now charged the MIT management with constructing the hostel without obtaining the mandatory plan sanction approval.

Enquiries with Pallavaram municipality, Chitlapakkam town panchayat and even the St. Thomas Mount panchayat union revealed they had not issued any plan sanction to MIT for constructing the hostel building. The officials, however, said there was a possibility the management had obtained the permission from Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority directly.

“Provisions of Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971 very clearly state that even if a government department were to construct a building on its own land, it needs to get plan sanction approval,” said D.S. Sivasamy, former additional director of municipal administration.

Officials at Anna University made it clear they had only started earth work now and they only needed to obtain a ‘planning clearance’ which they would get from CMDA soon.Soil tests had revealed that the north-western corner was not ideal, they said. The present location was chosen as it would be ideal to ensure student safety and comfort, among other factors.

They said they were going ahead with the work only after the project had been cleared by the finance committee and syndicate of Anna University.

As they charged a huge sum as fees from NRI students, they were under pressure to provide facilities for them, the officials said.