A number of residents from localities around Buckingham canal, fearing demolition of their homes, met with officials at the Ripon Buildings on Friday.
Facing intense pressure from revenue officials, who crack down on encroachments on government land, and Corporation officials, who have started identifying structures violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, residents in some localities visited Ripon Buildings to express their fear of impending demolition of their houses.
“They claim that they will demolish our house on Saturday. We spent money on the purchase of the land and registration of the sale of land. We are not encroachers. Most of the plots do not have patta. Now officials have started a survey,” said a resident who visited Ripon Buildings on Friday.
The residents alleged that some officials of the revenue department had warned them that their houses would be demolished. The scare has intensified in some localities of Injambakkam after the civic body was also asked to regulate structures in CRZ areas. Revenue officials, however, have not issued notice to the residents on the removal of encroachments.
“There is a fear that they will demolish over 500 houses. We have sought the advice of our councillor to save our homes. We are poor people who have purchased small pieces of land and built homes for ourselves. The government officials registered the sale of land but we were not aware that the lands did not have patta,” said Panchavarnam, a hawker and a resident of Bethel Nagar in Injambakkam. Most of the residents in such areas near Buckingham canal are labourers.
Some of the residents, however, said they supported the action against encroachments on the Buckingham canal that passes through the locality. “Let them widen the canal. But the government has to identify the actual problem and ensure that poor people do not lose their savings invested in small houses of their own,” said a woman resident.
According to revenue officials, they had only sought the support of the Corporation to remove encroachments near the Buckingham canal.
The equipment for removing the encroachment was sought by the revenue department from the civic body.
Officials of the civic body said they would complete the identification of authorised and unauthorised structures in CRZ areas near the canal and along the shore soon.
Corporation officials are now gearing up to face protests by residents as the work on identification of encroachments on government land and on CRZ progresses this summer. The process of removing some of the encroachments is likely to be intensified during the summer holidays to lessen the impact on schoolchildren.