Contractor ready to demolish it, forego payment: Minister

The contractor, who is building slum board tenements at Ammankulam in Coimbatore, has agreed to demolish the ‘sinking' building and written to the government stating that he will forego his payment, Slum Board Development Minister Subha Thangavelan told the Assembly on Wednesday.

Replying to a special calling attention motion tabled by the AIADMK, Congress and Left parties, Mr. Thangavelan said there was no financial loss to the government and the contractor was willing to take up construction again if a new site was provided.

The strength of the building could be gauged from the fact that it was leaning, “but there is no crack in the structure.”

Soil testing was carried out by PSG Engineering College. All precautions were taken. The expert committee that looked into the ‘sinking' had opined there could have been a “loose packet” somewhere deep down.

He refuted the charge that the land was ‘Eri' poramboke and said it was ‘Nathan' poromboke.

There is a Supreme Court order against construction or allowing squatting on government land classified as catchment or water body.

Pointing this out, C. Govindasamy (CPI-M) asked how the government had wilfully violated a Supreme Court order and carried out construction on a water body. There was great fear among tenement dwellers in the city after the incident, he said and wanted the government to conduct a comprehensive enquiry and fix responsibility.

S.M. Velusamy (AIADMK) asked why the government chose to build at the same spot the AIADMK regime had rejected.

Stressing that the government should take responsibility for endangering lives of people, he said this happened because of the hurry in trying to complete the building as quickly as possible.

C. Gnanasekharan (Congress) wanted to know how the site was selected, where soil testing was done and if the building was built at the place from where the soil was sourced.

A. Tamilarasu (PMK) sought to know if engineers of the Slum Board had any explanation for the ‘sinking,' and if the government had fixed responsibility.

V. Sivapunniyam (CPI) wanted to know if all mandated rules were followed before construction. There was a general view that Slum Board buildings were badly constructed since only the poor resided in them.