Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CMDA FILES ON ‘DEMOLISHED’ BUILDINGS GONE

Published Date: 2/6/2009 - (NIE)

G Saravanan

Chennai, June 1: TWO buildings located on Anna Salai and Arcot Road, which were constructed in contravention to Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority regulations have ‘escaped’ demolition for the last two decades as files relating to them have mysteriously been either ‘destroyed’ or ‘misplaced.’

R Natarajan, a research scholar who unearthed the startling details, told Express that he had lodged a complaint with the CMDA seeking details about the illegal buildings and, when the agency refused to reveal the facts, also filed an RTI application in May 2008. The agency then tried to delay its response using every option available. Irked over the CMDA’s attitude, Natarajan moved the State Information Commission, which ordered the agency to issue free copies of the files.

During the commission’s hearing, the CMDA admitted for the first time that one of the files related to an illegal building had been destroyed and that a file of another building was ‘missing’ since 1994. The CMDA did not state who had authorised the file to be destroyed. The RTI reply also revealed that the agency had claimed falsely that the buildings had been demolished in the early 1990s.

However, a senior official in the CMDA denied any wrongdoing in both the cases. Asked about the file that was destroyed, the official said, “based on the government’s order, every agency usually destroys files to minimise the load on the archives section and this file could have fallen under some category by which it had to be destroyed.” On the missing file, the official said that it could still be traced from the archives.

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