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‘Lake encroached upon for police station’

Arappor Iyakkam wants action taken against CMDA officials who permitted reclassification of waterbody

July 12, 2019 01:08 am | Updated 01:08 am IST - CHENNAI

Thamaraikeni lake in Sholinganallur continues to face the threat of shrinking water spread area due to encroachments and urbanisation.

The most recent violation is a police station constructed on a portion of a lake, claims Arappor Iyakkam, a non-governmental organisation.

Once spread over 150 acres, the lake has now shrunk to 26 acres.

Addressing journalists here on Thursday, the NGO’s convener, Jayaram Venkatesan, said the Chennai police has sought a space of 0.6 acre or 25,833 sq.ft. in the waterbody to construct a police station.

Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) sanctioned reclassification of land use for the lake in March this year. This, at a time when Chennai is reeling under severe water stress, he said.

Citing information sought under the Right to Information Act, he said the Inspector of Police, Semmanchery, had applied for reclassification of land use through Greater Chennai Corporation in 2017 and it was granted this year.

The lake was recently restored with the efforts of non-governmental organisations and residents. However, the lake continues to be vulnerable to ‘legalised encroachments’, he said.

Pointing out to a Madras High Court judgement in 2009, he said if the government failed to protect waterbodies, it amounted to breach of public trust. The CMDA and the police department have violated the public trust and have instead encroached the waterbody, he alleged.

Members of the Arappor Iyakkam demanded that action be taken to stop construction of the police station and the CMDA must cancel the reclassification of the land use of the lake area. The debris and soil dumped in the lake must also be removed.

Besides taking measures to restore the lake, disciplinary action must be taken on officials who reclassified the land use from waterbody to institutional use that violated the Madras High Court orders, the NGO members said.

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