K.T. Sangameswaran

CHENNAI: The Ooty Municipality has sought one more year’s time from the Madras High Court to implement a court order relating to unauthorised and illegal constructions.

In an order issued in February this year on a writ petition filed by Elephant G. Rajendran, managing trustee, In Defence of Environment and Animals, T.Nagar, the court had asked the authorities, including the Nilgiris Collector and the Ooty Municipality Commissioner, to take steps for enforcing provisions of the Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act after giving an opportunity to the land owners or others responsible for the unauthorised constructions. On being satisfied, they must demolish such structures. In a report filed before the First Bench last week, the Municipal Commissioner said the local body started implementing the order soon after the order copy was received in March. He submitted there were 1,337 unauthorised constructions in Udhagamandalam town. Notices were issued to 465 owners to show cause why their unauthorised buildings should not be demolished. A total of 145 replies were received, of which 54 were rejected and steps were being taken to demolish the unauthorised constructions. The other notices were under consideration. Three buildings had been demolished.

The municipality submitted that its town planning section had one Town Planning Officer, two Town Planning Inspectors (TPI) and two Chainmen. With this meagre strength, the court order could not be implemented in full.

Following a request to higher authorities, three TPIs from other municipalities were deputed to the municipality. They were yet to assume duty. The summer festival had commenced and municipality officials had to ensure that basic amenities were maintained. Implementation of the court order was also delayed by the inclement weather.

The Commissioner said in most of the unauthorised constructions within the municipal limits, the owner did not reside. The notices could not be served as the buildings were locked.

He sought 12 more months for implementing the orders of the court.

The matter has been posted for July 4.