Govt. directed to remove encroachments

CHENNAI, JULY 20. The Madras High Court has directed the State Government to remove all unauthorised constructions including hutments located close to the sea shore behind Santhome Church within a week.

Passing an interim order on a writ petition filed by a local resident objecting to the encroachments, Justice Mr. S. Jagadeesan, pulled up the authorities for negligence in preventing such unauthorised occupation.

In its report to the court, the Chennai Collectorate had said there were 160 tenements in Nochikuppam behind Santhome Church and Kalpana House, 200 huts in Doomingkuppam, 110 huts in Nambikkai Nagar and 200 huts in Mullaima Nagar besides nine ``pucca'' terraced residential buildings. Further, a small `Mada' church and a temple were also located in the area. ``Admittedly all these constructions were unauthorised along the beach near the Foreshore Estate''.

Being close to the shore, hardly a distance of about 100 to 150 metres, meant that it was unsafe for the people residing in the localities. ``It is not known as to how the authorities have closed their eyes to this unauthorised occupation which had developed slowly,'' the Judge said. The area was also prone to erosion and to prevent this, big rocky stones have been placed.

Prior to the encroachments, there were a few hutments in the area which were gutted in a fire accident about two-three years ago. Thereafter, the government constructed the hutments with fire proof roofing under the care of the Slum Clearance Board. Subsequently, the unauthorised hutments and ``pucca'' residential complexes had come ``due to the negligence of the area officials''.

Further, heavy traffic is witnessed in the area between 8-30 a.m. and 11 a.m., as vehicles are diverted to ease traffic on Santhome High Road, posing threat to the hut dwellers, since the hut dwellers ``are permitted'' to wash their clothes on the tar road for which water tanks had been provided.