A few days ago, social groups in the city like Citizens Guardians, Kanthal Kalam and People’s View Point took up the case at the Chola period Vengeeswarar Sivan Temple in Vadapalani.
Dotted with furniture shops and a coconut mandi, the temple tank has been in the middle of an encroachment spree that began in the early 80s when the city reeled under a drought, said the groups representing the cause of reclamation of the space. Talking to DT Next, V Ravichandran, founder of Citizens Guardians, said, “We had filed an RTI petition to find out the details of the land. According to the revenue records maintained, the tank belongs to Vengeeswarar temple. Over the years, the hereditary trustees and the management did not maintain the space well and the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HR&CE) turned a blind eye.”
According to the groups, the two parties passed the buck saying that the tank is each other’s responsibility. In a letter sent out to at least 10 departments, including the Chief Secretary, Law Secretary, HR&CE, Collector and Director General of Police, the citizen groups pointed out that the tank was encroached to construct buildings for business and residential purposes.
The citizen groups have been publicising the news of the encroachment by putting up posters in the area to create awareness among the public. The poster seeks answers to how the 100-crore worth land was illegally sold and by who to whom?”
Ravichandran said that over a period, a large mass of land was taken over for public projects. However, now private bodies have also taken over the land. “This is a dry season. Even if we have just 20 grounds left, develop it into a tank and it will help recharge the groundwater level in the area.
Chithra Devi, Assistant Commissioner, HR&CE said that the temple doesn’t come under their purview. “We do not have any details about the issue as it is an entirely different set of trustees.” However, the citizen groups maintained that the HR&CE has been in the know-how of the problem for a while now.
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