HC restrains TN govt from unveiling MGR Arch

Chennai: The Madras High Court has allowed the Tamilnadu government to go ahead with the construction of the MGR Centenary Arch here but restrained from inaugurating it.

The 66-feet-wide and 52-feet-tall structure will commemorate the birth centenary of late chief minister and AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran, who was popularly known as MGR. It will come up on the arterial Kamaraj Salai, just off the Marina Beach, where the late matinee idol-turned politician’s memorial is located.

A bench comprising justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee, however, restrained the government from inaugurating the arch till a public interest litigation opposing it is disposed. Almost 60 per cent of the arch’s construction has been completed, and the inauguration is scheduled for the next month.

The bench gave the order when the petition came up for hearing Monday. Referring to allocation of Rs 2 crore for the arch’s construction, the bench observed that the government concentrated on such things while people were made to run from pillar to post to get compensation for lands acquired by it.

The bench said cases related to about Rs 850 crore of compensation were pending in subordinate courts in Tamilnadu for the past 15 years.

Petitioner D Dinesh Kumar, an advocate, contended that the construction of the arch on the road was causing hindrance to the people and that it was for “political supremacy.” He said as per the Tamilnadu Highways Act, no permanent structure can be constructed either on the middle or the pathway of a road.

Hence, any construction was unauthorised and an encroachment in respect to highways, Kumar claimed. Tamilnadu Advocate General Vijay Narayan submitted that the place where the arch was being built did not fall under the highways department but within corporation limits.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing to 17 December. The ruling AIADMK celebrated the birth centenary of MGR, as Ramachandran was popularly known, last year on a grand scale, and Chief Minister K Palaniswami laid the foundation stone for the arch in August this year.

A charismatic leader, MGR, a recipient of Bharat Ratna, ruled the state from 1977 till his death in 1987 after breaking away from the DMK and forming the AIADMK in 1972.