Thoothukudi corporation built four parks over freshwater conduit at Rs 7.95 crore, reveals RTI

While Block No.53/2 is Korampallam freshwater channel, Block No. 54/3 is a conduit canal, as per the town survey register.
Right To Information. (File Photo)
Right To Information. (File Photo)

THOOTHUKUDI:  The Thoothukudi corporation constructed four parks abutting each other and encroaching upon freshwater conduit in front of the VOC College on Palayamkottai Road under the smart cities mission scheme, revealed an RTI reply from the civic body. Moreover, the construction has been completed even though a case in this regard is sub judice.

The four parks were constructed at a total cost of Rs 7.95 crore -- a traffic park costing Rs 4.47 crore, planetarium Rs 1.67 crore, five-land park Rs 1.08 crore, and an anthropology park for Rs 73 lakh. The corporation issued the sanction order for traffic park construction on July 20, 2018, while the five-land and anthropology parks were sanctioned on February 3, 2021. Further, the planetarium construction was given the green light on February 26, 2021.

The RTI reply also said that a case against the encroachment of water bodies (conduit channel on Ward-C, Block No.53/2, 54/3, 55/2) situated in front of VOC college and to prevent construction, filed in 2019 is still pending in the court. While Block No.53/2 is Korampallam freshwater channel, Block No. 54/3 is a conduit canal, as per the town survey register.

The Madurai Bench of High Court had sought for counter-affidavits from the secretary of municipal administration and water supply, commissioner of municipal administration, district collector, and corporation commissioner, as to the actual revenue classification of the said lands and changes made, if any. However, even with a case regarding the project pending before the court, the corporation completed the construction of four parks.

The petitioner of the 2019 case, SM Gandhimathinathan, told TNIE that it is still unclear as to how the corporation obtained permission for the parks when the case is sub judice. The civic body had not even filed the counter affidavits that were sought by the court, he said.

Activist Michael Anto Genius, who obtained the RTI replies in this connection, pointed out that these parks were built in a hurry before the 2021 Assembly elections. The corporation had also issued notices to others, who have encroached upon the same freshwater channel and conduits. Competent authorities must take necessary action to curb encroaching upon waterbodies, he urged.

When asked, a top official told TNIE that the court did not stay the project or order the construction to be ceased. Moreover, the land belongs to the corporation and hence the project was taken up, he added.

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