NGOs put up posters across Chennai to retrieve encroached temple tank

Sri Vengeeswarar Sivan Temple

Chennai: Three non-governmental organisations have stepped in for removal of encroachments on Sri Vengeeswarar Sivan Temple Tank on 100 Feet Road. The temple’s main entrance is on Saidapet Road, Vadapalani.

Over 500 posters have been pasted across the city by Citizens Guardians (Founder-chairman V Ravichandran) Kaanthal Kalam (Founder Saajaa Guna) and People View Point (Founder Sakthi G Saravanan).

“The temple dates back to Chola period. When Ashok Nagar and K K Nagar was developed by Tamilnadu Housing Board in the 1960s, the Inner Ring Road (100 Feet Road) was formed, that leads to Vadapalani. The temple is located at the right side while approaching from Ashok Nagar.
In course of time, there was drought and the temple tank dried up. Day-by-day it was slowly encroached upon and many shops came up,” said Ravichandran.

“In the Revenue Department record, it clearly states that there existed Sri Vengeeswarar Sivan Temple Urani (Tank). We confirmed it through Right to Information Act,” he added.

“Many organisations and individuals are fighting to retrieve the temple tank. We extend our support to them. We have sent petitions to the Chief Minister’s Cell and eight related government departments seeking necessary action to be taken to protect the temple tank, by removing all the encroachments and ensure the waterbody is restored to its original form as per GO 540/2014,” Ravichandran said.

NGOs have pasted posters to save the temple tank at Ashok Nagar.

Apart from the NGOs, the temple tank row is in legal battle and the case is to come up for hearing before Supreme Court 7 January 2019.

J Mohan Raj, a resident of Mylapore, had taken up the issue with the Madras High Court in 2016.

“Retrieving the temple tank is going on since 1987. Many protests have been conducted. In 2016, I filed a PIL in the High Court seeking to known whether there was a temple tank or not. The court directed the HR&CE Commissioner to enquire and submit a report. However, it did not happen.”

“In April this year, I once again approached the court and in June, the hearing came up before then Chief Justice Indira Banerjee. During the argument, the HR&CE counsel admitted that there was a temple tank. Seeing our records, the judge accepted that there was a temple tank and asked the Revenue Department, police and civic body to take action immediately to retrieve the waterbody,” he said.

The temple trustee has moved the Supreme Court and the hearing is to come up in January 2019.
The temple trustee said there was no encroachment and the land belongs to temple. Around 20 tenants are staying and are paying monthly rent. “If there is a tank, we need not pay Urban Land Tax. But we pay the tax to the government,” claimed the trustee.

Karthikeyan Halan