Officials of the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) on Sunday razed a hotel at the Vellore New Bus Stand. Tension took centre stage when officials demolished the commercial establishments too, which were illegally constructed six years ago, on the land belonging to HR&CE department.
Sources in the HR&CE department said that after a legal battle for six years, the department had succeeded in retrieving a total of 6,090 square feet of their land under encroachment. “The land belongs to Selliyamman temple that comes under HR & CE department. The value of the land retrieved today is `10 crore,” Assistant Commissioner (AC) of HR & CE, Vellore, K P Ashok Kumar said.
The issue of illegal encroachments started in 2006 when three persons started constructing a hotel without prior permission or valid documents. “The hotel owners had not paid rent for all these years. They had also failed to furnish adequate documents and also delayed the enquiry when Joint Commissioner of Vellore region initiated it, regarding the issue,” Ashok Kumar said.
The hotels owners approached the Madras High Court and obtained a stay order after the Joint Commissioner of HR & CE of Vellore Region, B Raja, who is also the quasi-judicial authority for land disputes related to temple lands, conducted an enquiry into the issue. However, the Madras High Court ordered that JC has the power to dispose the case.
Following the court directive, Raja conducted an enquiry for six months and issued his final order on May 19. The JC directed the hotel owners to vacate the hotel and hand over the land to HR & CE within 15 days. but they did not adhere to the instructions.
After the stipulated time expired on Saturday, the HR & CE officials, with the help of revenue and police department evicted the encroachments on the temple land and razed down the hotel engaging two bulldozers.
The demolition of the illegal constructions started around 8 am and continued till around 3.30 pm, Ashok Kumar said.