CHENNAI:Reclaiming public land from land grabbers is proving to be difficult for the city corporation as documents validating the land ownership by municipal bodies are often not available, said officials.
Speaking to Express, the officials said the absence of records was a serious problem in extended areas.
“It was the duty of the erstwhile panchayats and town administrations to hand over records of public land within their limits. But after they merged with the Corporation, we did not receive records from most of them, probably because they did not maintain accurate records,” said an official.
Recently the Madras High Court ordered a DVAC enquiry on a disputed land near Neelangarai, alleged to be OSR land that was encroached upon. The alleged encroachers succeeded in claiming ownership by altering records through the St Thomas Mount panchayat union. “Any land transfer to a municipal body ought to happen as a gift deed. At the Corporation, the Land and Estates department maintains the deeds and in case of dispute, we are able to refer to that,” an official said.
The problem was also not unique to panchayat bodies and extended areas. “The situation is similar with the Directorate of Town and Country Planning. Even the CMDA does not have records before 1970s which makes it difficult for us to reclaim land within the core city area. No one knows how much public land within the city have been encroached upon,” the official added.
The corporation in October 2014 declared it had reclaimed land worth Rs 4,247 crore between 2011 and 2014. “When we are unable to produce records on a land grab case, the court is likely to rule in favour of the encroacher. But the corporation will take the fight to the apexcourt if needed,” the official added.