CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has given the green signal to Southern Railways to take possession of a 3.9-acre property worth more than Rs 100 crore in Velacherry for the Mass Rapid Transit System.
In an interim order recently, the court permitted the railways to remove encroachments, including a fish market, which was constructed on 20 cents.
Ninety seven people under the banner of Annai Indira Gandhi Hut Dwellers Welfare Association had challenged a single judge order.
On March 21, Justice S Vaidyanathan had addressed the 97 people not as encroachers but land-grabbers and directed the government to remove encroachments on 4.8 acres and hand over the property to the southern railways to be used for the MRTS.
Railway authorities made repeated attempts for removing the encroachments with the help of revenue authorities but in vain.
Meanwhile, the association challenged the single judge order.
When the appeal came up, counsel for the railways disputed the ownership claim of the 97 people.
The counsel submitted that as an interim arrangement, the railways may be permitted to remove encroachments in 3.9 acres, excluding 97 cents occupied by the association, but including the fish market.
As the association said they did not have any grievance in the railways removing encroachments in the remaining 3.9 acres, a division bench of Justices R Subbaiah and PD Audikesavalu passed the interim order permitting the railway to go ahead with the removal of encroachments.
The matter dates back to 1992.
With the Southern Railway requisitioning the land for the MRTS project, the government had, on December 29, 2003, passed an order, cancelling a 1992 government order for allotment of one cent each to the 97 people and allotted the property to the railways.
Aggrieved by the order, they had challenged it in the high court. On June 30, 2004, the court had passed an interim order, staying the eviction of the encroachers.
In 2017, the case was taken up for hearing by Justice Vaidyanathan, who ordered inspection of the entire property by a team led by the collector.