Special Correspondent

Judge says there is no merit in the petition

According to a source, the members may have to vacate the flats in the wake of court order

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a writ petition by the Tamil Nadu Government Office Assistant and Basic Servants Central Association seeking a direction to the official authorities to allot proper alternative site to association members before evicting them from their flats at Foreshore Estate here.

The association had also sought an interim injunction restraining the authorities from evicting the members before allotting the alternative site.

In the order, Justice K.Suguna said there was no merit in the petition. According to a government source, the members may have to vacate the flats in the wake of the court order.

The association, represented by its general secretary, M.Shanmugham said the members, all government servants, have been residents of flats in Foreshore Estate for more than two decades. As most of the flats were old and needed renovation, the government decided to demolish the flats and put up new ones. There were several vacant flats in various places in the city which could be allotted to the members.

Alternatively, the government could construct flats temporarily or permanently on a vast stretch of vacant site at Foreshore Estate and shift the occupants there. But without adopting either of the methods, the official authorities had taken steps to evict the residents by asking them to get interest-free loan of Rs.25,000 or any of the flats constructed at Chemmanchery (about 30 km from here) by the Slum Clearance Board.

The flats at Chemmanchery were small. Interest-free loan of Rs.25,000 could not be availed of as no flat could be taken on rent on paying that sum as advance.

Additional Advocate-General P.Wilson submitted that the flats were constructed nearly 45 years ago and they were damaged in the 2004 tsunami.The buildings had lost their stability and were in a dilapidated and dangerous condition. The government-appointed committee submitted a report in 2007 on the damage. Thereafter, it was decided to demolish the buildings and construct a township. Therefore, the occupants were given two options. Still, several families had not moved out.

In the order, Miss.Justice Suguna said that as on date several government employees were in the waiting list for the vacant flats. Overlooking their claim and putting them on the list for more number of years for the sake of the petitioners was not justifiable in her opinion. Basing on an order passed in a contempt petition in August 2008 also, the petitioner could not get any relief.