CHENNAI: Is Tamil Nadu Housing Board building flats for government servants on Villivakam Lake Overflow line?
While officials deny that the area is a lake overflow area, a layout of the Central Survey Office acquired through the Right to information Act says otherwise.
As per the revenue records of 1906, the proposed site land seems to be an overflow line from Villivakkam lake to Otteri Nullah passing through Thirumangalam Road, says activist S Srinivasan, who has written a letter to the Chief Minister’s cell. Locals say the whole lake overflow line has been encroached upon the years and now it has large number of houses and metalled road.
But TNHB officials deny there is any illegality in constructing the flats. “The layout in question belongs to the British era. The land where the flats are to be constructed is an acquired land. It is a patta land,” says a TNHB official.
“We had acquired 1.41 acres of land for the project. We have paid for it through land acquisition. This has survey numbers,” the official said.
But Srinivasan refuses to believe it. “The Madras High Court has given a clear direction that no waterbody or water channel is to be used for construction or as a dumping site,” he says.
Interestingly, it is not the lake overflow line only which has been acquired; even a park near the High Court Colony in Villivakkam which was earmarked as per the original layout in 1951 has been a bone of contention and is facing a legal tangle.
It is learnt that the proposed park has changed hands nearly four times. Currently, there are numerous layouts and it is hard to place which is the exact layout. The case is now before the Madras High Court which has recently directed the Chennai Corporation to issues notices to people residing in the area to come up with relevant documents.
Association of Professional Town Planners (APTP) president K M Sadanand says that once a space in the layout is marked for park, it continues to be a park.
“It can’t be changed. The issue here is the layouts are being tampered with by government officials. Currently, Villivakkam is yet to have its detailed development plan,” he says. The Detailed Development Plan of Villivakkam, which is prepared in conformity with Master Plan proposals, covers an extent of 193.73 hectares.
He says most of the layouts have been tampered with by the government itself which has implemented many of its schemes on the lakes. “The major issue is that the common man is taken for a ride. He invests his life savings thinking the layout is approved. Only the officials involved in tampering of layout have to be punished, not the common man,” he says.
It is not too late to have a database of land records and layouts besides preparing the 53 detailed development plans of the entire Chennai. If it is done with a deadline, it could save Chennai from natural disasters as well as unplanned growth, he added.