‘Private’ park now open to public

A. Srivathsan and Kannal Achuthan

Corporation officials say the land belongs

to the local body

No clear-cut written agreement between the Corporation and flat owners or the developer

CHENNAI: The Chennai Corporation on Saturday broke open the locked gates of what was hitherto claimed as a private park attached to an apartment complex on the Velachery Main Road and made it accessible for public.

The Ceebros Orchid Apartments on the Velachery Main Road had a park with children’s play equipment as part of the complex. The park, on an area of about 15,000 sq.ft, was created on a land earmarked and transferred to the Corporation as mandated by the Chennai Metropolitan Authority’s open space reservation (OSR) of land for public purpose. The rule states that any project built on a plot more than 3,000 sq.m in area has to allocate 10 per cent of the plot as open space for public purpose and transfer it to the local body.

The Ceebros Orchid Apartment Owners’ Association comprising 192 flat owners who occupied the apartments since April last year received a notice from the Chennai Corporation in October 2007 directing them to keep open the park for public to use.

After eight months, on Saturday, the Chennai Corporation forced open the gates of the park and instructed the apartment owners not to obstruct public use. By order, the park will be kept open for public use only for couple of hours in a day.

Secretary of the Association Ravishankar said that they were surprised to get the notice since they all along thought the park was their exclusive property and had invested on its upkeep. The flat owners had maintained it as their own private space. They cite the CMDA rules on OSR where it reads that in cases where the flat owners association is maintaining the OSR public access shall not be insisted. However, there is no clear cut written agreement between the Chennai Corporation and the flat owners or the developer.

Sources in Ceebros, the developer, told The Hindu that in Orchid apartments it was made clear to the flat owners that the park was an OSR land and the undivided share of the land registered excluded this area. However, the owners association claims that the plan and promotional material promised a children’s playground and they are deprived of it now and concerned about enforcing the limited use of the park. The developers have informed the Corporation that they will remove the play equipment and relocate them elsewhere.

Corporation officials said the land belonged to the local body. While it could be maintained by the residents, it should be accessible to the public. If an OSR land was kept closed, the property could easily be used for purposes other than as a park.

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