G Gouthaman, a software professional, heaved a sigh of relief, as the first bench of the Madras High Court, comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice P T Asha, directed the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HR&CE) department to immediately remove all encroachments on the Vengeeswarar temple tank and restore the water body at the earliest. “We have been trying to restore this waterbody for years, but the legal proceedings kept going, until the recent court order,” said Gouthaman.
The temple tank came under the scanner when the trustee was found selling the property in 1987. “The tank covers half-acre and the total temple space is 1.5 acres. After years in legal hassles, a fresh lawsuit was filed by J Mohanraj in September 2016, demanding recovery of the temple tank. The judge directed HR&CE to conduct an inquiry. Earlier this year, I had started an awareness campaign on the absence of this Kulam, where we found more people coming forward with evidence of the existence of the tank, which the government counsel too corroborated,” added Gouthaman, who is spearheading this initiative.
Following this, HR&CE issued a directive, reiterating the court order demanding the encroachment be removed immediately. “There can be no question of any construction on a water body. The Police, Revenue authorities and Corporation authorities shall be bound by this order and shall render necessary assistance to the HR&CE Department,” stated the order.
The Sundaravaradharaja Perumal temple tank in Virugambakkam measured half-acre, which was closed illegally using fake patta. “Except for the temple tank, rest of the place is not encroached. But the Taluk Board had given it out as Panchami Land. However, the case is in the High Court and the judge cancelled all the pattas, asking the Collector to verify and award it,” added Gouthaman, hoping that the HR&CE will help clear out the encroachments, to bring about the restoration of the tanks. “We found NGOs interested in reviving these tanks, which we hope will take place soon,” said the resident.
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