Udhagamandalam: The ongoing operation to demolish unauthorised buildings in this hill station and the efforts of the owners to get the violations regularised took a new turn on Monday with a good number of persons who had put up such structures gathering in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue at Charing Cross here and taking a pledge to continue their struggle the Gandhian way.
They were led by the president of their association G.Muthukrishnan. The group comprised people from various walks of life including a former civic body chief and retired government officials.
Earlier, they submitted a memorandum to the Nilgiris Collector Anandrao V.Patil, in which they pointed out that they had not violated the rules deliberately.
The civic administration had failed to create awareness among the public about the Master Plan and building rules which had come into force in 1993. Many had put up buildings on the assumption that their plans would be approved without delay and on the oral assurance given by the officials. Without setting right matters in the early stages of construction, the civic officials had put building owners in an unenviable position.
Among them were persons who had utilised their savings, retirement benefits etc and also borrowed money from private financiers. Underscoring the importance of shelter in a cold place such as the Nilgiris, they said that if the operation demolition was not called off, thousands would be subjected to considerable physical, mental and economic hardship.
Meanwhile, officials told The Hindu that the High Court had made it very clear that appropriate action should be taken against the unauthorised structures. Environmentalists said that the long term consequences of unplanned development would be catastrophic.
They pointed out that though the storage position in all the reservoirs was more than comfortable now water supply to some areas was erratic owing to the considerable increase in the number of water connections which had been provided without proper planning.