CHENNAI: Nilgiris is set to witness a spate of demolitions as the Madras high court has ordered the Tamil Nadu government to start razing unauthorized structures after clearing 945 pending review pleas of violators.
The 945 buildings are part of 1,330 structures identified by the authorities in 2010, when disconnection of water and electricity connections was ordered. The buildings had been built after the cutoff date of 2007. As only 70 buildings were demolished in the past four years, petitioner Elephant G Rajendran brought up the matter again in court and sought a direction to the authorities to take legal and coercive action against the violators.
Slamming the authorities for "lack of will", the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan recently said: "The unfortunate part is that unauthorized construction appears to have continued unabated even thereafter (2010). It is not as if the authorities concerned are devoid of statutory powers to take action, but some of them appear to have a lack of will. The result is that the number of unauthorized constructions has grown, and the task to take remedial action itself has become huge."
In this regard, the judges said the Ooty municipality alone has identified 1,337 unauthorized constructions, and owners of 945 filed rectification applications before the authorities. Conceding that no demolition could be done unless their pending applications are disposed of, the judges asked the authorities to dispose of the review pleas in a phased manner, at the rate of 75 applications per month.
Setting a two-month deadline for disposing of 150 applications and start action against the violators, the judges said a Google map of the area could be prepared to identify the existing position of constructions "so that no one can claim in future that such a construction existed before that date."
The bench, however, rejected the petitioner's plea for constituting a committee to carry out demolition works. It said a committee to verify whether the task is being carried out or not could be formed.
The bench further said the similar schedule should be followed for Kothagiri, Gudalur and Coonoor. It listed the matter on December 17 for filing compliance report.