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Land sharks on the prowl

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GATHERING FOR CAUSE: Residents of colonies near Agaram Then village meeting on Sunday to seek government intervention to end large-scale land frauds. Photo: K. Manikandan.
GATHERING FOR CAUSE: Residents of colonies near Agaram Then village meeting on Sunday to seek government intervention to end large-scale land frauds. Photo: K. Manikandan.

K. Manikandan

Plea to streamline land registration

TAMBARAM: Residents, activists and many elected representatives in the southern suburbs of Chennai are alarmed by the attempts to grab lands belonging to individuals, government and the public.

Citing the recent arrest of a group of people on charges of preparing forged documents to sell several acres of land near Tambaram that did not belong to them, residents have urged the State Government to crack down on land sharks and streamline land registration to make it transparent and easy to verify.

Residents' meet

During a meeting in Krishna Nagar of Kasbapuram, Agaram Then village panchayat near Tambaram on Sunday, residents pointed to the attempts made by a group of people to sell 284 acres of land. "Kasbapuram is only 304 acres in extent and there is enough evidence to indicate that about 64 acres of it has been sold, purchased, and registered," said Manivannan, a bank employee.

Residents of the area have demanded the cancellation of all recent land registrations in Kasbapuram made by the group. Apart from taking stern action against those who were part of the scheme to sell public land that included burial grounds, parks, wells and even temples, residents said the Kancheepuram district administration should intervene and set up a commission of inquiry into the incident.

More than 100 residents took part in the meeting.

Village land targeted

Activists said that with land becoming scarce in urban areas, villages on the city fringes, with their vast open spaces, including land classified as `poromboke,' became soft targets for land sharks.

With little monitoring by local bodies and other government departments, attempts were being made to grab several acres of unclaimed land. At Ottiyambakkam village near Tambaram, residents have appealed to the District Collector to inspect a `meikaal poromboke' where attempts were being made to develop it as a real estate venture.

Land adjoining an abandoned quarry measuring about 10 acres was earmarked for future development works. If this land was usurped, residents would be put to great hardship, they said. The village is a part of St. Thomas Mount Panchayat Union.

Similary, Kovilambakkam village panchayat too convened an urgent meeting of its Ward Members recently, at which a unanimous resolution was passed to protect about one acre of land classified as `anaadheenam.'

Appeal to Government

According to P. Rajendran, panchayat president, the land was meant for use by the public, and a handpump was installed and an overhead water tank constructed. More recently, residents of a village panchayat off Old Mamallapuram Road registered their protest when a private engineering college encroached on a water body, dumped rubble and formed a road so that vehicles could reach its premises easily.

Residents have warned that government inaction would only encourage land sharks.

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