A drive to remove encroachments from the vicinity of Velachery MRTS station kicked off on Tuesday, paving the way for more such initiatives to evict sqatters from other parts of the city. Even as residents in the area protested, railway and revenue authorities managed to evict all the encroachers by evening.
Ridding over 4.87 acres of encroachments is expected to improve civic conditions in the vicinity of the MRTS station. Seeing a large posse of police and RPF personnel at the spot on Tuesday morning, a few residents protested. But the demolition drive managed to evict residents and shopkeepers along four streets. Eviction of encroachments was briefly disrupted after a group of over 100 residents gathered in a mosque constructed on encroached land. Officials persuaded the residents to vacate the premises for a few hours and finally managed to demolish the entire building by evening. They also partly brought down some buildings, in a bid to prevent squatters from entering the premises. “We will complete the demolition in three days,” said an official.
Former councillors of Chennai Corporation had reportedly grabbed more than 50% of the land, developing commercial buildings along the four streets in the vicinity of Velachery MRTS station over the past few years. The number of encroachments are estimated at more than 150 along the four streets.
Corporation officials have issued property tax assessments in the area over the past few years. They also failed to check building violations owing to pressure from councillors, residents said. S.K. Raja, a resident, said the land should be used for developing a road parallel to the Velachery-Taramani Road, connecting Velachery MRTS station, Perungudi MRTS station and Taramani. “Traffic congestion in the area is expected to reduce after development of the road,” he said.
The demolition raised pollution levels in the area and sparked traffic snarls.
Disaster management expert N. Mathavan said the removal of encroachments from the area would improve disaster preparedness. A fish market developed by a councillor in the area was also demolished.
Following the demolition, the focus of civic authorities has shifted to other encroachments across the city. Hundreds of acres belonging to Anna University and Madras University have been encroached upon by people in Kaiveli and Kallukuttai in the Assembly segments of Velachery and Sholinganallur.