CHENNAI: Calling the police station being built on a water body in Sholinganallur a gross violation and an encroachment, NGO Arappor Iyakkam had written to the CMDA asking them to stop construction and demolish the existing structure.
The New Indian Express reported in April that work for constructing a police station on the Thamaraikeni lake bed had started amid repeated protests by residents. In 2017, the Environmentalist Foundation of India had restored the 60-hectare lake giving it a complete makeover because of which it was brimming with water. Now, construction debris and garbage has once again found its way into the lake thanks to the upcoming police station.
A reply to the RTI applications filed by the NGO revealed that a portion of the lake bed had been reclassified by the CMDA in March to facilitate this construction. But a revenue officer said that the land had been allotted to the police station long ago.
Extracts from the reclassification register maintained by the CMDA showed that 0.24 hectares of land was changed from the category of water body to institutional use. According to documents, the inspector of police, Semmenchery, through Chennai Corporation had requested the CMDA in 2017 to reclassify this piece of land on which the police station is being built.
According to an order by the division bench of Madras High Court in 2015, authorities in power cannot destroy water bodies for the benefit of mankind and it is beyond their power to reclassify it. "Both the CMDA and police department have failed in their responsibility to the general public. Even during a severe water crisis, instead of protecting water bodies, government agencies are destroying it," said Jayaram Venkatesan of Arappor Iyakkam.