CHENNAI: The legal hurdles for establishing a world class oceanarium at Mamallapuram were cleared following an order of the Madras High Court rejecting the writ petitions filed by several land owners. The case is related to acquisition of 5.9 hectares of land located at Devanneri village in Mamallapuram. The land was acquired in 1974 for developmental activities of the Tourism Department, but got entangled in litigation.
In 2013, land owners approached the HC seeking orders to retrieve the land to its original owners since the government had failed to utilise it. Citing the provisions of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, they prayed the land acquisition has lapsed by operation of Sec 24(2).
Meanwhile, TN Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) in 2015, had decided to lease out the land at `1 crore for the Fisheries department to establish an underwater oceanarium at `250 crore. The petitions filed by the land owners were heard by Justice GK Ilanthiraiyan. Additional Advocate General (AAG) Neelakandan and government counsel Richardson Wilson appeared for the Tourism Department.
They argued that the Supreme Court, in the case of Indore Development Authority vs Manoharlal & others, 2021, had held that as per Section 24(2) of the Land Acquisition Act, when compensation is paid/deposited or the possession is taken, that is sufficient to save the acquisition. The compensation was already settled to the petitioners and necessary documents were produced before the court to substantiate the same, the AAG noted.
After listening to the arguments of both sides, Justice Ilanthiraiyan dismissed the petitions and said the land acquisition proceedings were proper and valid.