AIADMK functionaries’ office was built recently
People travelling on the Velachery Main Road cannot miss the serene and green picture presented by the Veerathamman temple tank near the bus stop at Pallikaranai.
Filled with water, it is surrounded by huge banyan and peepul trees. Water lilies are abundant, a rare sight in the city or its suburbs during the scorching summer.
The water body is spread over less than two acres. But, a couple of decades back, it was spread over 22 acres. The shrinkage has been primarily attributed to encroachments by land sharks who have usurped portions of the tank on all its sides except the west, where they were made impossible by the formation of the Velachery Main Road.
Functionaries of the local unit of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam now occupy an office on the western bund of the tank. The permanent structure, measuring over 100 square feet, was built recently.
The names of district level functionaries, including the animal husbandry minister and Tambaram MLA T.K.M. Chinnayya are painted, bright and bold, on its walls. Residents say neither the Chennai Corporation nor the revenue department of Kancheepuram district have been able to act against the encroaching structure.
S. Malar, a long-time resident of neighbouring Jalladampettai, said no effort had been initiated by administrators to prevent the encroachments. Members of a committee administering the ancient Adipureeswarar Temple located opposite the tank too said nothing could be done to prevent the new encroachments. Though complaints had been sent to different government agencies, Pallikaranai residents display reluctance in talking about the issue.
Ms. Malar feared the construction of the permanent structure by the ruling partymen would only embolden land grabbers and speed up the destruction of other waterbodies, already under grave stress due to the twin menace of encroachment and pollution.
According to sources at the Corporation, they had planned to spend Rs. 30 lakh on improvement works at the tank, including creation of a walkers’ pathway, but they had been shelved. They are however hopeful of reviving the works.