Houses demolished claiming as encroachment in Chennai RA Puram! A comprehensive analysis!
The Supreme Court had ordered the removal of 625 houses on Ilango Street in Govindasamy Nagar in Raja Annamalaipuram, Chennai, claiming to be occupying the bank of Buckingham Canal area. Accordingly, 366 houses were removed.
The government was involved in the evacuation of the remaining 259 houses following a court order to evict them immediately. Kannaiya, a resident of that area had set himself on fire and died following the demolition. The evictions and evacuations mentioned as court orders have been widely condemned.
Rajiv Rai, a real estate businessman, has been accused of evicting houses in the name of a welfare case for his personal gain.
On March 13, 2008, the High Court ordered in the Rajiv Rai’s case filed in 2006 on encroachments in the Buckingham Canal area, to provide an affordable opportunity to the 500 encroachers who are living for more than 30 years.
In the case filed by Selvam, the government had said that under the JNNURM scheme, alternate housing would be provided to 625 families in Okkium, Thoraipakkam. In February 2011, the Supreme Court ordered that the petitioners could remain in the same location until construction works are completed.
Of the 625 allegedly occupied houses, 366 hutments were demolished and evacuated. The remaining 259 houses were pending due to the writ petitions and protests. In 2014, Rajiv Rai had filed a contempt petition in the court. Subsequently, an order was issued on January 30 to allocate 259 tenements. However, 259 houses remained unevacuated due to subsequent petitions.
Finally, in the contempt petition filed by Rajiv Rai, on October 25, 2021, the Supreme court issued an order to remove the encroachments within 6 months.
A letter to Govindasamy Residents Welfare Forum from the Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu, dated 9 March 2022, says that a peace committee meeting was held on October 26, 2021, but no compromise was made between the concerned departmental officials and the residents. During the meeting, some insisted that their land was declared a slum by the government and should be de-notified to evict them. Their request has already been considered by the Government and they are informed that there is no provision in the Act to de-notify the areas declared as slums under Section 3 (1) of the Tamil Nadu Slum (Development and Removal) Act, 1971. Also, no building or construction project permission has been obtained for the place where they currently reside. Also, the particular place is owned by the Public Works Department.
The State has the responsibility and duty to carry out the order of the Supreme Court. Therefore, the government is ready to resettle them in the alternate houses built by the Tamil Nadu Urban Housing Development Board. The officials demanded the residents’ support to perform the eviction.
While the government has been engaged in the task of evicting houses for the past few days now, the Supreme Court had ordered to continue the work of evicting the houses, even in the case filed in the Supreme Court seeking an injunction order.
Speaking to Geeta of the Women’s Rights Association, she said, “People have been living here since 1965. This is the slum area declared under the Slum Board Act and is brought in during Kalaignar’s regime. That Rajiv Rai is building and selling apartments in the area behind the slum. He is suing for selfishness that only if this slum area is evicted will the flats he builds become more expensive and profitable.
The houses they claim to be occupying are 60 feet away from the canal area. But, on the other side of the canal, houses and bungalows which are just 20 feet away from the canal have patta. But, they refuse to provide for these people.
Government officials are behaving in a coercive, anarchic manner when evicting people from their homes. Thus Kannaiya had set himself on fire. They say it takes 3 months to provide housing even for those who have been taken away from here.
The Chief Minister had assured that the people here in distress would be allotted houses near Mylapore. But the government lawyer failed to mention CM’s say in the hearing that was held today in the Supreme court. And many people are still here.”
People there say they have been living in the area for more than 30 years and have documents to prove it. In the case of Patta, there is also the possibility of giving them Patta and settling there based on the fact that they have been living in the same place for so many years.
When AIADMK MLA Nataraj of Mylapore constituency in 2018 referred to Rajiv Rai’s ongoing case in the Assembly, he mentioned that 259 flats in the southern part were not on the bank of the canal. But, there is a risk of demolition due to the verdict by the court. He also said, in the interest of the people in this regard, a revision petition should be filed in the court.
Rajeev Rai, a real estate tycoon prosecuting the case, is facing various charges of trying to increase the real estate value of his properties by removing the houses in the canal area and selling some apartments in his place at a higher price by building canal view apartments. So far, his interviews have not been published anywhere.
The current government had promised to remove the encroachment areas and allocate houses on the premises of the Slum Clearance Board in the city-bound area nearby as soon as it came to power. However, the government has said now that it will provide alternative housing in some other areas which raises questions and protests after which the government agreed to provide alternate housing in Mandaveli, which must have been done earlier. Next, people have reported anarchic mannered behaviour by the authorities during the evacuation process, which is reprehensible. The government should take appropriate action on it.