Do not allow commercial establishments on the pathway: PIL

The Madras High Court bench here on Friday ordered a notice to the officials of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department in Tirunelveli on a public interest litigation seeking to restrain them from allowing commercial establishments on a public pathway near Arulmigu Courtallanatha Swami Temple in Courtallam.

The petitioner, P.Gopal, told the court through his counsel T.Lajapathi Roy that the HR and CE officials had invited tenders to build two commercial establishments in Vadakku Sannathi Street near the temple on May 27, 2013, and rent them out.

According to the counsel, the department had proposed to build commercial establishments in Vadakku Sannathi Street in 1995. However, the proposal was dropped by the Joint Commissioner of the HR and CE Department, Tirunelveli, through an order passed on October 16, 1995, after public opposition, Mr Roy said.

Recalling a fire accident in Sannathi Street in 1992, the counsel said the devotees visiting the temple were able to escape from the accident because there were no commercial establishments in Vadakku Sannathi Street leading to congestion. Similarly, when there was a flash flood in the waterfalls in 2004, the devotees reached safety as there were no encroachments on the street, he added.

“The officials are keen on increasing the revenue. They are not bothered about the safety of the public,” the counsel contended.

A division bench comprising Justices S.Rajeswaran and T.Mathivanan ordered a notice to the Joint Commissioner of HR and CE Department, Executive Officer of the temple and Executive Officer of Courtallam Special Grade Town Panchayat. The case has been posted to June 24.

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