The Madras High Court has come to the rescue of about 55,000 slum dwellers who were not given ownership of residential plots allotted to them decades ago under World Bank-aided projects, despite paying the entire sale consideration.
Allowing a writ petition filed by one of them, Justice S. Manikumar directed the Housing Secretary as well as the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) to execute sale deeds in favour of all the 55,000 eligible slum dwellerswithin two months.
Petitioner S. Arokiam stated that the TNSCB allotted him a 3.88 sq m plot at Ullagaram in Chennai on April 10, 1992 under Madras Urban Development Project (MUDP)-II funded by the World Bank.
However, even after payment of the entire sale consideration in 1999 itself, the TNSCB did not execute a sale deed in his favour. Hence, he filed the present writ petition in 2003 and it was pending for the last nine years for want of a counter affidavit. Taking it up for final disposal, the judge called for government records, which disclosed that around 55,000 slum dwellers in 120 localities in the State were facing a similar problem as most of the lands granted to them were classified as waterbodies in revenue records.
Stating that the beneficiaries of government schemes could not be treated like encroachers, the judge said that there cannot be any impediment in assigning the lands now as there were not used as water sources any more.
Though only one beneficiary had filed the writ petition, Mr. Justice Manikumar said that his judgement should be treated as a judgement in rem (applicable to all).