TNSCB is constructing them at Okkiam Thoraipakkam

The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea against the construction of tenements by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) at Okkiam Thoraipakkam, near here.

However, it directed the State government and the TNSCB to immediately attend to the basic needs and requirements of the residents of Kannagi Nagar and surrounding areas by providing clean, healthy and protective atmosphere to the residents and to ensure regular water supply which would solve many problems of the residents.

By a G.O. of July 2006, the Revenue Department alienated 7.95.5 hectares in Okkiam Thoraipakkam to TNSCB for constructing tenements for the tsunami-affected and other people who were evacuated from slums. By a notification dated October 21, 2008, the board invited tenders for constructing additional residential flats in the area. Against the State government's move, Susetha filed the present public interest litigation petition.

Rejecting the petitioner's contention, a Division Bench comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and K.K.Sasidharan, concluded that the proposed area of construction of additional tenements did not fall within the prohibited zone. It was not a ‘marshy land' or a ‘water body' or a ‘backwater area.' The State was empowered to change and modify the land classification having regard to the contemporary nature of the land. One could not expect that the land classification would be static and stagnate at all times without change by the passage of time.

The Bench said the petitioner lacked bona fides. She herself had constructed a house in the area and was trying to term the area a ‘prohibited' one relying on the revenue classification in 1911, which had long ago been re-classified owing to the contemporary nature and position of the land. In fact, it was undoubtedly a well developed area now. All this would clearly show that the petitioner had not approached the court with clean hands. The Bench observed that Right to life under the Constitution did not mean an animal life, but to live with human dignity. Non-provision of the bare minimum necessities for the people to live in a hygienic and clean atmosphere would prompt individuals to turn indifferent to society.