The Madras High Court has expressed dismay over the haphazard manner in which residential layouts are developed. It has directed residents of one such layout in Coimbatore Corporation limits to gift 10% of the area to the civic body for establishing parks and community halls or end up getting the entire layout declared unapproved.
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh pointed out that Ramasamy Gounder had developed 4.492 hectares into a residential layout, named Maharani Avenue IV, in 1987. The Deputy Director of Town and Country Planning had approved the layout, consisting of 108 plots, on condition that 2,301 sq m should be earmarked for a park, and 2,225 sq m for a community hall.
The property, then, was within the jurisdiction of the Veerakeralam Town Panchayat, whose executive officer permitted the developer to convert the area, earmarked for the community hall, into housing plots. Consequently, the area was converted into 12 plots and sold to different people. It was only in 2011 that the panchayat got merged with the Corporation.
Now, the Corporation wanted to take possession of the area earmarked for the community hall, on the ground that the executive officer had no authority to permit the conversion of common property into plots, and the plot owners had rushed to the court. On perusal of records, the judge found that no gift deed had been executed in favour of the civic body, so far.
“This case is a clear illustration as to how development activities take place in a haphazard manner. Ultimately, innocent purchasers get caught and the original owner escapes from the scene. This Court has to now strike a balance between the rights of the owners of the plots on the one hand, and the responsibility of the Corporation on the other,” the judge said.
He directed the Corporation to issue notices to plot owners in the layout, asking them to ensure that 10% of the total area is allotted for public purposes. He ordered that steps be taken to identify the developer of the layout, or his legal heirs, to ensure that a gift deed is executed in favour of the Corporation.
If the requisite land is not gifted to the Corporation, the entire layout should be declared unapproved, he added.