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| Last Updated:: 23/11/2016

HC bars sale, registration of Pallikaranai marshland site











In the wake of rampant encroachment in the 600-acre Pallikaranai marsh, the Madras high court has issued stringent directions, including prohibiting constructions of any kind, to protect it.The marshland houses 142 species and is among the important natural wetlands in the country.


"The government is directed to issue a paper publication informing the public about prohibition with regard to registration of any documents of the marshland," the court said on Monday directing the chief secretary, the revenue secretary , the commercial tax and registration secretary and the secretary of environment and forest department to verify whether private pattas were issued for the land belonging to the marsh.


Earlier, Justice N Kirubakaran, while hearing an anticipatory bail plea, said that though the matter pertained to bail, the facts before the court revealed marshlands were being encroached upon. The two accused, through fabricated documents, had claimed 66.7 acres of the marshland for themselves for a "meagre amount of 66 crore. So, in the interest of environment and people and to safeguard the marshland, the court had to intervene.


The high court has directed the inspector general of registration, Chennai zone, to direct all registrars in the state to stop registering any document pertaining to the marshland either separately or along with other pieces of land.


The official also had to submit details like sale, gift, allotment and lease of marshland parts registered in private names across all registrar offices in the state since 1990 within 12 weeks. Counsel for the petitioner for another connected writ petition recently said that institutions, including the National Institute of Oceanic Development (NIOD), SIETs Windmill Research Centre, Metupakkam Foundation, Rajalakshmi Trust along with Velachery railway station and the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam Ring Road, had also encroached upon the marsh. Justice Kirubakaran now directed the state government and the civic body to verify the title deeds and details of the pattas.



In the last hearing on November 18, the court said marshlands in Pallikarnai were being encroached upon by land grabbers who were hand-in-glove with "influential officers" by "clubbing marshland with some other properties."



Though the joint registrar, South Chennai registration office, Saidapet, was the only authority to register the documents pertaining to the land in Pallikaranai, parts of marshland areas were being alienated by registering the documents in registrar offices across the state.



The court then suo motu impleaded 20 officials including the five secretaries, departments of Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board, Municipal Administration and Water Supply , CMD, Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board, chairman, TNEB, deputy inspector general of registration, commissioner for land administration, commissioner, Chennai corporation, principal chief conservator of forests and various officials of Kancheepuram district.



In October, 2015, the court directed Chennai Corporation to provide a proposal on shifting the dump yard at Pallikarnai and to verify the encroachers and action contemplated against them. The forest department had also to submit a report on fencing of the available marshland to prevent further encroachments.



The matter has been posted on November 28 for further hearing. 







Source: The Times of India