Hearing a petition against encroachment of government land by a few persons from Vellalakundam village in Salem, Justice SM Subramaniam said the State should not be a mere spectator on encroachments.
S Raja, the petitioner, stated that nine residents of the village illegally encroached government land and built structures. “They have constructed a complex and rented out to several people, including the TNEB and a nationalised bank. The offenders are getting Rs 16 lakh per month through rent,” the petitioner submitted.
Expressing shock that encroachers were getting rent from government offices, Justice Subramaniam said: “Shockingly, it was informed that the lands belong to the government and few greedy men encroached them and illegally constructed buildings and interestingly rented out to the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board and a nationalised bank.” He slammed officials for conducting a peace meeting instead of recovering the land. “The competent authorities have also miserably failed to initiate action immediately. Contrarily, peace meetings were conducted with the persons. However, peace meetings cannot be conducted in respect of encroachments and illegal utilisation of government lands. Thus, the authorities have also committed serious lapses, negligence and dereliction of duty in dealing with such encroachments in favour of the private parties and earned a huge sum for several years,” the court said. When the government advocate submitted that officials were in the process of recovering encroached lands in the village, the judge directed the officials to complete all evictions within six months.