The Coimbatore Corporation's demolition squad removed a vehicle parking lot created on the Valankulam tank behind a church on Tiruchi Road in the city on Saturday.
On orders from Corporation Commissioner Anshul Mishra, the squad led by Town Planning Officer M. Soundararajan engaged four earth movers to remove a 15,000 sq.ft. (300 ft long and 50 ft wide) parking space.
It was created by dumping earth up to a height of as much as 15 ft on a portion of the water body.
Officials in the squad said the creation of the parking lot by those managing the church amounted to encroachment of the water body.
They pointed out that there was a court order to remove all encroachments from water bodies and disallow any further encroachment.
When the Corporation began initiating action on Saturday, the church authorities produced a letter of permission for putting up the parking space and claimed it had been given in 2004 by the Public Works Department that had control over all water bodies.
The State Government had issued an order last year, giving the Corporation control over eight tanks in the city in order to rejuvenate them.
The Corporation would take up the rejuvenation at Rs.125 crore under the Jawaharlal National Urban Renewal Mission.
In a statement issued here, Presbyter and Chairman, D. V. Karunakaran, CSI Christ Church, and J.P. Jacob, Hon. Treasurer, said that no notice had been given before the earth movers were used.
They said permission had been obtained and rent was being paid for the facility for the past six years.
A Corporation official said that the construction of a road, a bus terminal and a depot and an electricity sub-station were being blamed by water resources conservation activists for the reduction in the tank area.
Besides, the dumping of debris along the road connecting Tiruchi Road with the Sungam Bypass was also threatening to eat into more tank space, they said.
Now, the Corporation wanted people to desist from putting up any structure on the tank that should actually hold enough water to recharge the aquifers in this part of the city.
Keywords: land encroachment