Eviction drive on Chitlapakkam lake in Tamil Nadu leads to protests by residents

Reported by

Hariprasad Radhakrishnan

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee

Updated by

Published on

August 22, 2022

August 22, 2022

Updated on

August 22, 2022

Location of Conflict

Chitlapakkam

Kanchipuram

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Encroachment by Non-Right Holders (Other than Caste-based)

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

403

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

34

ha

Starting Year

2017

State

Tamil Nadu

Sector

Land Use

Residents have been protesting the demolition of encroachments in Chitlapakkam lake, where the clearance drive kicked off in January, 2022. Officials suspended the clearance of encroachments after protesters staged a road blockade.

The latest clearance drive on the Chitlapakkam lake was prompted by a Madras High Court order passed in 2022, in response to a public interest litigation filed by anti-corruption NGO Arappor Iyakkam in 2019. The Madras HC has also issued orders for the removal of encroachments from water bodies in its previous judgements passed in 2007 and 2015.

In 2017, the district administration removed 12 non residential encroachments from the lake. A few religious structures including temples, a mosque and a church were also demolished. In 2019, Chitlapakkam Rising, a local NGO that has been working to restore the lake, organised volunteers to conduct a cleanliness drive of the lake to fight water scarcity. The NGO’s campaign for a government desilting project bore fruit later that year when the Chief Minister earmarked Rs. 25 crore for the project. Following a High Court order that made its “zero-tolerance policy” towards encroachment of water bodies, the Public Works Department started issuing eviction notices to the encroachers. However, the eviction did not take place immediately due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In April 2021, the Tamil Nadu government informed the Madras High Court that it had identified 403 encroachments on Chitlapakkam lake and issued notices to all of them. Of the total encroachments, 374 are house sites. In July 2021, the HC ordered the removal of all encroachments. However, the government failed to meet this deadline due to the lockdown imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic. In January 2022, the government relaunched the encroachment removal drive on the Chitlapakkam lake. but only managed to remove 74 so far.

It may be noted that despite only a section of the encroachments being removed, the government submitted in the HC that all of them, except a school, had been cleared. However, an RTI reply accessed by the Times of India, showed that only 74 encroachments had been removed. Following this, the government filed an affidavit stating that the previous submission had an inadvertent error.

Sunil Jayaram, the founder of Chitlapakkam Rising, told LCW that the residents, who have been labeled encroachers, have been living in the area for the past 50-60 years. "They feel that the eviction is taking place in a biased manner. They find it unfair that some of their neighbours have received pattas but they haven't. Meanwhile, the government continues to flout the law by building police stations and other facilities on water bodies. Only the houses of those who have accepted alternative accommodation have been demolished so far," he said. Following protests, the Water Resources Department has put the demolition drive on hold.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand for rehabilitation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

25

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2019

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Tamil Nadu Protection of Tanks and Eviction of Encroachment Act, 2007
Section 7(1) [Officer of the Public Works Department has the power to evict encroachers on water tanks after issuing notice to the affected parties]
Jagpal Singh and Ors. v. State of Punjab (2011 (11) SCC 396, Supreme Court)
In 2011, the Supreme Court issued directions to the state governments evict encroachers from common lands and frame schemes for preservation of commons. This judgment has been relied upon extensively by the Madras High Court in various cases to evict encroachers from water bodies.
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  3. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  4. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  6. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

No

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Madras High Court

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Madras High Court

Case Number

W.P.No.10666 of 2019

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

A PIL was filed by local NGO, Arappor Iyakkam in 2019, before the Madras High Court to seek removal of encroachments from Chitlapakkam lake in Chennai. The Madras High Court has been entertaining the case along with several other connected cases. On October 22, 2021, the High Court recorded that newer encroachments on water bodies have been noticed, despite various High Court judgments to prevent the same. In another set of matters, the High Court had directed the State government to submit satellite pictures to identify encroachments. On March 3, 2022, the State Government submitted that all encroachments in the area have been removed apart from a school, which would also be shifted after the end of the academic year. The petition was finally disposed of on July 8, 2022.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Blockades

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Water Resources Department, Revenue Department, Public Works Department, Police Department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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