In city, encroachments have no religious barriers

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The three major religions are united in one thing – encroachment. When it comes to encroaching, unity in diversity goes well within the Chennai corporation limit as the civic body continues to look the other way as far as religious encroachments are concerned. No religion preaches encroachment, but people with vested interests continue to steal the sidewalks marked for pedestrians.

“Despite several Supreme Court and high court orders against encroachments, there is no respite for the public and law-abiding residents from these encroachments,” said RTI activist Gopalakrishan, who resides in K.K. Nagar where a new trend of encroaching sky space is becoming popular. Ramps connecting dargahs, illegal covered ceiling for a temple on a corporation road are the latest violations going unchecked, he said.

The jumma mosque on Lakshmanan street in MGR nagar has erected a 12 feet high arch at the entrance of the street which would make it difficult for heavy vehicles to pass through. Also, the mosque has constructed a bridge connecting two of its buildings on either side of the street, Mr. Gopalakrishnan, added.

When the corporation officials inspected the structure and issued notice to the management of the mosque, heated arguments broke out and the field officials had to leave the spot sensing trouble.

Similarly, members of a temple on Kamaraj street in Annai Sathya nagar, Jafferkhanpet, have built a concrete roof over the corporation road causing a hindrance to the neighbours. When contacted, local corporation officials maintained stoic silence.

“The officials refuse to remove the illegal structures as representatives from these temples, grottos and dargahs not only use foul language but also threaten them with dire consequences,” alleged Mr C.L. Sridhar, a resident of Jafferkhanpet.

“The illegal structure was erected without the corporation’s approval. Law and order problems appear to emerge in the locality owing to the presence of the roof,” alleged Mr Kumar, a resident of Alagirisamy street.

A visit by this newspaper to south Chennai showed several violations. A grotto of Mother Mary at Vadapalani and Kodambakkam, roadside temple of Lord Vinayaka at K.K. Nagar and Ashok Nagar, green flags obstructing footpaths in Saidapet are some glaring examples.

A confidential source in the Ripon Buildings said the matter was a policy decision that has to be taken up at the state level. Unless the public cooperate, the corporation cannot act in a way to hurt religious sentiments, said the source.

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