Demolition of a building occupied by the Chennapuri Andhra Mahasabha, one of the last few encroachments on the land belonging to the Victoria Public Hall, has begun.
According to officials of the Chennai Corporation, the Madras High Court had given time till the end of this month to the occupants to vacate the premises. The civic body had taken over possession of the hall and other related properties from April 1, 2009.
The Mahasabha was one of the sub-lessees that had occupied about 5.5 grounds of land behind the hall. Officials said that the Sabha itself started demolishing the building on Tuesday.
The South India Athletic Association, which had occupied a portion of the ground floor, has already vacated the premises. In November 2009, the Chennai Corporation demolished 32 shops that had encroached upon a portion of the land belonging to hall following a Madras High Court order.
The Board of the Victoria Public Hall had also resolved to authorise the Commissioner, Corporation of Chennai, to take action against the sub-lessees of the V.P.Hall Trust.
The Victoria Hall was designed by Robert Chisholm and built by Namberumal Chetty. The proposal for a town hall was put forth by leading citizens of Madras at a meeting in March 1882. At present, the hall is being renovated by the Chennai Corporation at a cost of Rs.3.06 crore.
Repairs to the wooden rafters, roof tiles, turret, doors, windows and staircases are being carried out with funds from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission.
Officials said that in the past three years, the Chennai Corporation took over 529 acres of land worth Rs.1,500 crore, including in Anna Nagar, Kotturpuram, Saidapet, Koyambedu, Nungambakkam, Wall Tax Road. This includes 2,098 sq ft of land in R.A.Puram, 8,000 sq ft in Saidapet and six grounds near Broadway bus terminus. Lands leased out to private tennis clubs were also taken over.