1.22-acre site classified in village register as ‘local fund reading room’

Will Manapparai municipality ever get possession of the 96-year-old reading room and the 1.22-acre site on which it is constructed? Now the municipality has moved the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in this regard.

Despite S. Malathi, secretary, Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department, categorically directing the Collector in 1997 to help the municipality take possession of the land without any impediments, it was not handed over to the civic body. But the Revenue Department took possession and retained the same for use as Taluk Supply Office. After 2005, as the building became dilapidated, it was allowed to remain unused.

Similarly, Niranjan Mardi, secretary, Municipal Administration and Water Supply, in his communication to the Collector on February 28, 2007, wanted him to hand over the site to the local body immediately.

He dismissed the letter of the tahsildar to the commissioner of Manapparai municipality asking for remitting the land cost as “irrelevant and not germane to the case”. He has also pointed out that the site lies unutilised with a dilapidated tiled building on its premises. Now the chairperson of the municipality, V. Shantha Veerachamy, has moved the Madras High Court seeking possession of the property as the village register has classified it as “local fund reading room”. She has submitted that at present, the property, which is in the heart of the municipality, remains unutilised and none of the government authorities is utilising it.

If the property was handed over to the municipality, it could be utilised for the welfare of the municipality and the general public. She has suggested that the municipality augment the revenue by constructing a multipurpose shopping complex there because this site is between the bus stand and the railway station.

The municipal council passed a resolution on November 27, 2012, directing the chairperson to take up the matter with the government.

However, the Principal Secretary and Commissioner of Land Administration, in his letter dated July 5, 2010, had said “as the municipality has failed to maintain the land free from encroachment when it was under its control as reading room and a legal battle had been fought to take possession of the land from encroachers”, the municipality need not be permitted inside the land to carry out any activities. “The request of the municipality lacks merit and is rejected.”