Space in Anakaputhur, meant for children’s park, is under attack

A section of residents in Anakaputhur have urged their local body as well as the Kancheepuram district administration to protect and preserve a small patch of open space, earmarked for the creation of a children’s park.

According to residents in the locality, the open space in Indra Nagar (Ward 17) was earlier a ‘kuttai’ (pond) and that efforts have been made since 1996 to protect it from land grabbers. About five decades ago, around one acre of land at the spot was dug up to mine stones and ‘hill mud’ for construction work. This resulted in a small pond with fresh water stagnating in it after the monsoons. The kuttai is also called ‘kallu kuttai’ indicating that it was created as a pond after the mining of stones, residents said.

The locality was named as Indra Nagar soon after the Emergency in the country came to an end. The street beside the pond was named after K.K. Shah, who was Governor of Tamil Nadu during that time.

Residents said the original expanse of the pond was close to one acre — around 43,000 square feet. However, it had now shrunk to a meagre 3,600 square feet. In the mid 1990s, residents in the area began a movement to protect what little was left of the pond, which by then had been filled with construction rubble and mud to level it. It was also used by children to play on in the evening, residents said.

When there was an initial attempt to usurp the land, they managed to thwart it with support from the Kancheepuram district administration, Anakaputhur town panchayat (subsequently upgraded to a municipality) and their local body’s elected representatives.

Following signed memorandums from residents in Indra Nagar and Kanniamman Koil Street, who added pressure to their demand to protect the pond, a board was installed at the site indicating that the patch of land belonged to Anakaputhur Municipality and that trespassers were forbidden.

However, once again there are attempts being made to take over the land by land sharks, who have been seen visiting the site and have even attempted to form a boundary around it.

Residents have now pinned their hopes on the municipal administration and the Kancheepuram Collector’s office to intervene and protect this open space and also build a children’s park there as soon as possible. Engineers of the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply said they would act at once to thwart any form of encroachment.