HC summons officials in encroachment removal issue

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Chennai, Jul 3 (UNI) A division bench of the Madras High Court has summoned five senior officials and ordered them to be present in the court on July 15 in a matter pertaining to the corporation's failure to remove encroachments.

Justices S J Mukhopadhaya and V Dhanapalan yesterday summoned the senoir officials including the Public Works Department secretary, Chennai Corporation Commissioner, Chennai district collector, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) member-secretary and the chairman of the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB), to the court.

On Tuesday, the same bench directed the Home Secretary to appear in the court on July 4, ''to hear court's views in person.'' The matter pertains to the officials' failure to ensure removal of encroachment on Elango Street in Raja Annamalaipuram.

A resident, Rajiv Rai, moved the court seeking direction to the authorities to remove encroachments on the street is adjacent to the south bank of the Buckingham Canal on the 40-feet-road that connects Greenways Road and Kamarajar Salai.

Narrating the difficulties faced by the residents, the petitioner said several representations were sent to the district collector and other officials. But, the officials did not perform their statutory duty, thereby deliberately abetted the encroachers, he added.

The government informed the bench that about 625 encroachers were living a normal life in the area for more than 30 years and that a committee of officials had decided to first discuss alternative arrangements to them. The committee also sought six months time for taking an ''amicable decision.'' The bench, however, said it was not inclined to accept such a suggestion and added, ''the time granted by the court earlier had already lapsed, and in the absence of valid explanation, the officers concerned may be held for non-compliance of the earlier order of this court.'' Considering the fact that 625 families would be immediately affected by the encroachment removal exercise, the judges said, ''we are inclined to grant some more time to the officials to find out whether the families can be rehabilitated.'' The bench then directed the five top officials to be in court on July 15 ''to assist the court.'' UNI XR KK PM1357

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