Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Big time encroachers stay put

Published Date: 10/6/2009 - (NIE)

G Saravanan

Chennai, June 9: AT a time when the administration is trying to recover areas encroached upon by voiceless people in the state, officials turn a blind eye on clearly established encroachments along the Injambakkam Beach, that too even after judicial orders demanding strict action against the people regardless of their clout in society. At Injambakkam beach, nearly 50 acres of beach area were reportedly encroached upon by several influential people for the last 15 years.

The Kancheepuram district administration appears to be still reluctant in clearing them despite three Madras High Court orders asking the removal. The court ordered removal of encroachments at Injambakkam Beach in 1997 and then in 2007, and this time, in December last. But the district officials have not taken any concrete action yet.

Braving several intimidation attempts, ‘Injambakkam’ H Sekar, founder of Nature Trust and a local resident, had filed a writ petition in Madras High Court last year seeking the removal of all the illegal and unauthorised encroachments and structures on Injambakkam beach adjoining the lands in survey numbers 2,7, 8, 11, 12 and 15.

Based on Sekar’s petition, the High Court ordered the district administration in December last to remove those encroachments along the beach and to file a detailed report on steps taken for the removal. A week after the order, the district Collector filed an affidavit saying that based on previous court orders on the same issue, notices were served to 19 people mentioned as encroachers and action was being taken.

In the affidavit, the district official submitted that besides two (beachside) encroachments that were removed already, eviction drive along the particular seashore in Injambakkam was scheduled several times, but due to ‘unforeseen administrative’ reasons it did not happen.

In reality, two months ago, the officials concerned performed the ritual of ‘removing encroachment’ at the beach (at two different points) clearly leaving those encroached beach villas held by influential people, Sekar said. “A powerful union minister, several industrialists, an educationalist and people close to a sprawling amusement park near the area were the encroachers,” he further added.

When Express tried to get details pertaining to the delay in executing the eviction drive in the seashore area, village panchayat officials avoided answering directly on the issue and sought lame excuses. When contacted, a senior official responsible for removing encroachment at Injambakkam Beach, said that the district administration removed all encroachments along the beach and increased its vigil to ensure that there were no further such encroachments.

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