2 unauthorised structures survive demolition drive near Madambakkam lake

Nearly 10 days after an anti-encroachment drive rendered many homeless in the vicinity of Madambakkam lake, two unauthorised structures in the area remain untouched. 

Officials had committed to removing these two encroachments in survey number 708 and 724 on a piece of land measuring a few acres. A Madambakkam-based activist said these structures survived the drive as they were owned by local politicians. A district administration official admitted that the two structures were yet to be demolished but blamed the lack of action on inadequate support from the police and revenue departments.

Other residents, some of whom had been living in the area for over 15 years, were not as lucky. Their protests against the move to demolish their houses had been in vain.

The activist noted that it was mainly the poor who bore the brunt of such campaigns. “These people were often sold plots of land that encroached on lakes by land grabbers and a few local politicians who had an eye on their votes for the local body elections. Most of the settlers were landless poor who had come to Chennai in search of a job,” he added.

Over the years, they were provided with civic amenities and were therefore shocked to learn that their houses had been marked for demolition. During the demolition drive ten days ago, residents said they had paid sums ranging between Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 2 lakh to purchase the plots and were even issued ration and voter identity cards. They were also provided with water and power supply.

A senior official of the Kancheepuram District administration justified the drive saying that a study conducted in 2006 showed that nearly 10,000 encroachments were present in the handful of lakes around Tambaram. “The water bodies in Rajakilpakkam, Perungalathur, Peerkankaranai and Ullagaram were some of the worst affected. The encroachments had come in the way of carrying out improvement works in 12 major lakes and tanks around Tambaram for which the State government had allotted Rs. 410 crore,” the official added.

The public works department is expected to shortly clear structures encroaching on the lakes in Rajakilpakkam and Sembakkam.

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