The Madras High Court on Monday ordered removal of 237 encroachments on 44 temple tanks and 686 encroachments on 11 channels in Kumbakonam and directed the Thanjavur district administration to consider relocating the encroachers on residential plots reportedly available at a distance of three km from the town.
The First Division Bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose passed the order on a public interest litigation petition filed by advocate ‘Elephant’ G. Rajendiran in October 2015 to ensure that Rs. 260 crore allocated by the State government for the Mahamaham festival in Kumbakonam was spent properly without spillage.
Series of directions
Even after the festival got over, the first Division Bench, led by the then Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, had chosen to keep the PIL petition pending in order to issue a series of directions to the officials and make them clear the encroachments from all the temple tanks in the town.
On May 16, his Bench had said: “The Mahamaham festival is over but that is not the end of the problem.
“The tanks have to be cleared, the encroachments have to be removed, the violations of the buildings have to be dealt with, and the conversion of the buildings from residential to commercial and constructing multi-storied buildings require action.
“The area and the city has to be set right. We, thus, call upon the respondents now to prepare a chart dealing with all these aspects and as to what has been done, what are the violations remaining, what is proposed to be done qua them and in how much time. The chart be filed within four weeks with advance copy to the petitioner.”
Thereafter, the court was informed that there were 44 temple tanks in the town, of which only 28 were being used as tanks.
Nine tanks were filled with silt completely, three were under encroachment by way of houses, two were subject matter of court cases and the remaining two were being used as school playground and public park.
Immediately, the court appointed a retired district judge to inspect the tanks and submit a report on the number of encroachments. Accordingly, Mr. Rajendiran told the court on Monday that the former judicial officer had identified 923 encroachments with the assistance of the revenue officials and that they should be removed forthwith.