Thanjavur open air jail work begins

Sastra University to be evicted from the prison land it had allegedly encroached upon

Updated - May 13, 2018 12:36 pm IST

Published - May 12, 2018 11:24 pm IST - CHENNAI

  Ambitious project:  In the proposed open air jail at Thirumalaisamudram in Thanjavur, there would be no boundary wall and prisoners can work normal ly but are required to return to the barracks at night. A file of picture of a prison in Ananthapur in Andhra Pradesh

Ambitious project: In the proposed open air jail at Thirumalaisamudram in Thanjavur, there would be no boundary wall and prisoners can work normal ly but are required to return to the barracks at night. A file of picture of a prison in Ananthapur in Andhra Pradesh

The Tamil Nadu Prison Department is going ahead with its plan to construct an open air jail at Thirumalaisamudram in Thanjavur district on 58.17 acres of land, part of which was allegedly encroached upon by Sastra University.

While calling for a detailed estimate on the cost of constructing the jail from the Tamil Nadu Police Housing Corporation, the Prison Department intends to write to the Thanjavur Collector to take steps to demolish the buildings constructed on the encroached land, official sources said on Friday.

The open air jail is an ambitious project of the Prison Department, where life convicts who have completed seven years of their sentence would be moved to serve the remaining term in a completely different environment. There would be no boundary wall and prisoners could work as normal people and required return to the barracks only at night.

Going by official documents available with The Hindu , 58.17 acres were earmarked for the jail project and allotted to the Prison Department in 1985.

Exchange offer

The Secretary and Correspondent of Sastra University requested the government to alienate the land, which abuts the university campus, to it, and he offered 70.56 acres at Thatchankurichi in Pudukottai district in lieu of the same. However, the proposal was rejected by the government in 1996.

Later, Sastra University allegedly encroached upon 30 acres of land belonging to the Prison Department and constructed pucca buildings there. When the district authorities served an eviction notice, the varsity filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court challenging the eviction proceedings, which was dismissed.

A proposal of the Commissioner of Land Administration recommending to the government that 20.62 acres of land could be alienated to the university by collecting double the market value was also rejected by the government, which took the stand that “if encroached land was alienated to the encroachers, it would become a bad precedent for all such cases.”

The university again took a legal step and based on an interim order of the Madras High Court in April 2017, the proposal of the Principal Secretary/Commissioner of Land Administration for alienation of land to Sastra University was examined and rejected in September 2017.

As the Prison Department prepared to commence work for constructing the much pending open air jail, Sastra University again represented to the Chief Secretary seeking exchange of land, proposing three different parcels of land from its side. However, the proposal was rejected by the Thanjavur Collector. In January, the varsity again offered four parcels of land in exchange and the proposal is pending with the government.

A senior Prison Department official said the proposal of Sastra University for exchange of lands was not within the policy of the government and hence was rejected on several occasions.

“The design and cost of the proposed open air jail is being worked out and we will commence the project soon. The District Collector, Thanjavur, will be requested to evict encroachments on the prison land. We are going ahead with our plan since there is no instruction to delay or defer the project…,” the official said.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.