TAMIL NADU

Demolished tombs to be restored at Otteri Burial Ground

Deepa H Ramakrishnan and K.T.Sangameswaran

Corporation razed them down to make way for road

CHENNAI: The Chennai Corporation has agreed to restore four tombs that were demolished by it at Otteri Burial Ground.

Responding to a petition under the Right to Information Act filed by A.S.Dharmalingam of Kilpauk, the Corporation’s Health Officer, who is also the Principal Information Officer said: “Chennai Corporation fully realises the values and sentiments of the petitioner and the Zone Officer 4 is ready to restore the four tombs to their original shape to the satisfaction of the petitioner.”

The petitioner had submitted that four tombs constructed in memory of his parents and grand parents were razed to the ground making way for a concrete road. Stating that he had built the tombs after paying for the land and obtaining due sanction, he questioned under what right and authority the Corporation removed the tombs.

As he did not receive a proper reply for his petition, he requested the appellate authority, in this case the Corporation Commissioner, to direct the PIO to grant appropriate information consistent with transparency envisaged in the Act.

The Commissioner in his reply said that “no notice either to the public or the individual was given by the City Municipal Corporation as it did not intend to demolish or destroy the tombs built, but to help the public in the burial of their relatives as it became the mandate of the Corporation to offer basic service of cremation and burial to the city population.”

He said that the Corporation had banned construction of tombs in most of the burial grounds as they occupy more space; it became necessary to demolish the older ones to accommodate new burials. The four tombs referred to in the petition were among those wholly destroyed.

The petitioner then went on appeal to the Tamil Nadu Information Commission, which directed the Secretary, Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department, to obtain the comments of the Chennai Corporation on why the affairs of RTI in the Corporation still remained in such a poor state despite a number of admonitions and directions from the Commission to ensure that its officers are properly trained to carry out their duties as per the Act.

It directed the Secretary to ensure that correct and complete reply is given to the petitioner.

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