TN Minister submits counter, denies charges

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Chennai, Aug 25 (UNI) Tamil Nadu Agriculture Minister Veerapandi S Arumugam has denied the charge relating to a land grab issue, pending in Madras High Court against him.

A Division Bench of the High Court, admitting a writ petition filed by the Indian Association of Peopole's Lawyers (IPAL) All India General Secretary alleging the minister's involvement in demolishing a 'heritage' Collectorate building and in forcibly evicting 30 people in Angammal colony, had orderd notice to the minister, Chief Secretary, Director-General of Police, Salem District Collector and five other officials, three weeks ago.

In his counter, Mr Arumugam submitted that the petitioner was trying to obstruct the construction of a modern integrated office for the Salem District Collector with ''ulterior motive.'' In fact, fund was allotted for the purpose and government orders to this effect was also issued. The petitioner, with an intention of ''scuttling the district's progress,'' filed the writ petition contending that the building, dating back to 1804, was a heritage structure, the minister contended.

The minister, denying all charges regarding the land grabbing, submitted that he was in no way connected to the Angammal area residents. ''It is a design to tarnish my political image and force me to deter my functional activities as a Minister,'' Mr Arumugam added.

The petition would come up for further hearing on August 28.

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