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Owners wake up to land grab threats in south Chennai

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SAFEGUARD: With land grab incidents on the rise, the need for protective measures is more important for property owners.
SAFEGUARD: With land grab incidents on the rise, the need for protective measures is more important for property owners.

L. Srikrishna

Take extra precautions to safeguard property

CHENNAI: Land grabbing is not new to Chennai, but a rise in the number of cases in recent times is making landowners, particularly those in south Chennai, take additional precaution to secure their property. The large number of petitions to police from landowners and the increasing number of notice boards to mark ownership of vacant plots are indicators of the trend.

After road signs and advertisement hoardings, such notice boards perhaps are the most in number. Vacant housing plots in many parts of south Chennai bear display boards with clear messages: “This property is not for sale” or “This plot belongs to Mr. A”. There are even court orders pasted on some boards.

The Chennai police have an exclusive team attached to the Central Crime Branch to handle land grab cases. Though they have been taking action against complaints, the accused are not detained under the Goondas Act, advocates say. Instead of examining the records possessed by owners, police allegedly indulged in acts that encouraged anti-socials to trespass into others’ lands.

The ‘exorbitant’ cost of land is seen as a major factor for such rise in the number of petitioners approaching the police and courts. According to Additional Commissioner S.R. Jangid, the number of petitions received from the public had almost doubled this year, compared to the corresponding period last year. Police investigate and take action as per the law, he said. However, property owners affected have a different tale to tell. They allege that without the connivance of police, it is difficult for land grabbers to operate.

About a month ago, a family of three sisters who owned about nine grounds in Tiruvanmiyur was shocked when about 30 men forced entry and attempted to set up a hut on their property.

Police rushed to the spot and arrested the accused. The family does not know who sent the gang.

In another case in the same locality, a Reserve Bank officer in Kalakshetra Colony on Arundale Beach Road was under constant threat from some anti-social elements. He said the road in front of his house was being claimed by another person who insisted that the space was a housing plot allotted to him by the Housing Board in the late 1980s.

The RBI officer approached the court and had it established that the space was a road connecting Arundale Road and Coastal Road as per the land survey records. Yet, he continues to receive threats. The Tiruvanmiyur police are aware about the issue, but have not taken any action, he alleged.

All India Bar Association vice-chairman S Prabhakaran said as per the Land Grabbers Act 14 of 1982, the land grabbers can be detained for one year.

Land grab should be dealt with an iron hand as people spend life savings or borrow to buy property, he said. Police officers said they have not detained land grabbers under the Goondas Act.

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