Minister firm on removing land encroachments

I. Periasamy  

Special Correspondent

Also vows to clear structures on water bodies

CHENNAI: There will be no let- up in the drive against encroachment of government lands, Revenue Minister I. Periasamy said here on Saturday, and assured district-level monitoring panels full support to execute the task.

Briefing reporters on the decisions taken at the first meeting of the State-level committee to monitor the removal of encroachments held here on Friday, he said the Government was firm in its decision to remove illegal occupation of poramboke lands, lakes, ponds and other government sites.

The eviction drive in districts had gained momentum. A total of 31,859 acres were cleared in 30 districts till December last year. Of this, the largest area of 5,110 acres was in Cuddalore and the lowest of 6 acres in Chennai.

Mr. Periasamy said it was difficult to give an overall picture of the encroachments in the State as land categories differed from district to district. There had been no large-scale displacement of people in the districts, as most illegal occupations were not dwelling units.

Even in areas where houses had to be cleared, alternative sites or temporary shelters were provided. Asked if the authorities faced any resistance from the occupants in any area, Mr. Periasamy said the Government was determined to clear encroachments of water bodies and waterways, including those in and around Chennai, without fear or favour.

This was necessary to meet the irrigation and drinking water requirements of the people, besides preventing floods.

Even while the scheme to issue house site pattas for persons residing on `Natham poramboke' lands for over 10 years had benefited many people, pattas would not be given to persons residing on the banks of the Cooum and other waterways. However, efforts would be made to allot them flats constructed by the Slum Clearance Board on priority basis.

Vigil to continue

The district-level monitoring committees and local bodies would keep a constant vigil to ensure that there was no recurrence of encroachment of lands by real estate agencies and others in areas where evictions were carried out.