CHENNAI: Around 12 commercial establishments on the Chitlapakkam lake bund marked as encroachments were brought down on the first day of a demolition drive launched by the Kancheepuram district administration. However, three temples along this stretch - Chitlapakkam third main road - have been given a week’s time to relocate the idols before the arrival of JCBs.
Despite protests and a last-minute sit-in by trustees, a marriage hall, which doubles as a temple, was brought down along the stretch. Around 15 trustees, who manage the Shri Dharma Shashtha temple hall, were detained for obstructing officials. In addition to the Chitlapakkam police, St Thomas Mount police district personnel were brought in to ensure a smooth demolition drive.
“All these shops and buildings come under survey number 256 which is an ‘eri poromboke’ and they are all encroachments. We can’t afford to be partial to some entities,” said Chandrasekar, Tambaram Revenue Divisional Officer, who coordinated the exercise.
Among the buildings which are to be reduced to rubble is the APJ Abdul Kalam reading hall which is managed by Pandian, who claims to be a “social servant”. Two of the three temples which are marked for demolition are managed by SVV Trust headed by Pandian.
The self-proclaimed social servant, however, showed no remorse and no qualms for his violation, claiming that “the building walls make the bund stronger”.
This demolition drive in Chitlapakkam comes less than a fortnight after the visit of Chief Minister ‘Edappadi’ K Palaniswami to the flood-prone area. However, the RDO told Express that the initiative was a sequel to a High Court order. It would also help resolve water stagnation problem along the stretch.
What about dumpyard?
The demolition angered the encroachers, mostly locals. They were quick to point a finger to the Chitlapakkam dumpyard that borders the lake and pollutes it with partially segregated domestic waste after the rains.
“The government conveniently ignores the dumpyard which borders the lake and government school. Why are we the first to go?’’ said C Padma, who lost four of her shops to the demolition.
Residents who had gathered told Express that this demolition would in no way end their monsoon woes as their areas were flooded from excess water from the Selaiyur lake, not from the Chitlapakkam lake.
“If the government really cares about the Chitlapakkam lake, it should remove the encroachments on the inlet side,” said another bystander watching the JCBs bring down the marriage hall.
However, the RDO told Express that this stretch was chosen first because it had minimal residential encroachments. “Demolition can happen only after residences marked for demolition are resettled. There are only two residences identified on this stretch,” he said.