Pathways over Army training area were used as a shortcut

Irked over the failure of Tiruchi Corporation to make any headway in getting the Defence land for laying a link road between residential colonies around Edamalaipattipudur/Crawford and the K.K.Nagar Main Road, residents of the region have urged the civic body to pursue the matter expeditiously.

It has been nearly four years since Tiruchi Corporation Council decided to seek the transfer of about 3,000 square metres of Defence land near Crawford for laying the road after intermittent squabbles between residents of Crawford and the Territorial Army (TA) in the city over the former’s demand for a pathway across the Defence land. For many years, residents of Edamalaipattipudur, Crawford, and several other colonies have been using pathways over the training area of the 117 Infantry Battalion (TA), The Guards, as a shortcut to reach K. K. Nagar, to reach schools, offices, shops and hospitals. A large number of auto rickshaws, two-wheelers and even four-wheelers were using the narrow gravel pathways, ignoring the signboards of the TA warning against trespass.

Sporadic attempts by the TA to prevent the ‘unauthorised entry’ of the residents into their land met with persistent resistance. In 2008 things reached a flashpoint. Irked over the intrusions into their training area, where soldiers are put through training and physical fitness routines, the TA authorities dug trenches three to four feet in depth at the entry points to the colonies, which prevented vehicular access to the Defence land. Since then, residents, especially school children, have been forced to take a detour via the overbridge near railway junction and Mannarpuram to reach schools in K.K.Nagar area. “We have to pay Rs.600 to Rs.800 every month for transport of our children to schools by auto rickshaws. Previously, the children used to just walk across to reach their schools,” said M.Sethuraman, president, Federation of Residents Welfare Associations, Crawford and Edamalaipattipudur.

The district administration had then advised the corporation to seek the transfer of a piece of Defence land for laying an approach road. However, the Defence authorities, who treat the path as encroachment, had informed the corporation it was not possible to transfer the land but suggested that the civic body go in for acquisition of the required land. In fact, the Defence authorities had asked the corporation to pursue the matter expeditiously. “We even have a copy of the letter from the Defence authorities to the corporation in this regard. Though the corporation had told us in reply to a RTI query that it had taken up the matter with the government, there has been no headway in the matter. We presented petitions even a month ago, but to no avail,” Mr.Sethuraman said.

In a joint representation to the Collector and the Corporation Commissioner, Mr.Sethuraman, D.Kaliyaperumal, secretary, and V.S.Mani, treasurer, of the association stated that the issue has been simmering for the past 13 years and demanded that a joint sitting of civic officials and Defence authorities be held to process the land acquisition expeditiously.