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State sets up fund for retrieving its land from encroachments – Mrit News

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It will be used to meet the expenditure on account of eviction from and fencing of public land

It will be used to meet the expenditure on account of eviction from and fencing of public land

The Tamil Nadu government has set up the Government Lands Retrieval and Protection Fund with an allocation of ₹50 crore, which will be used to meet the expenditure on account of eviction from and fencing of public land.

According to guidelines issued for the fund, priority must be given to the land in urban, sub-urban and peri-urban areas, where the land are more valuable and the likelihood of encroachment is high. Priority must be given to land where evictions were carried out but the likelihood of re-encroachment is high. Vacant sites identified as having a high chance of encroachment in future must be protected.

Preference must be given to poromboke land that is under the control of the Revenue Department, such as (but not restricted to) assessed/unassessed waste, ‘anadheenam’, surplus land under the Urban Land Ceiling Act or the Land Reforms Act, ‘natham’ vacant site, waterbodies and any other type of objectionable and unobjectionable poromboke. “’Meikal’ land can be taken up, though it is vested with the local bodies.”

In vested poromboke land, eviction and protection expenditure must, as far as possible, be borne by the local bodies concerned. (For instance, ‘thoppu’ and ‘mayanam’ under the village panchayats), according to the guidelines.

Activist V. Gopalakrishnan, who has been fighting against encroachment of public land, said that instead of spending from the exchequer, the government should impose a fine on encroachers and use the money for fencing. “More than mere fences, which are often destroyed, RCC structures, notifying it as government land, can be displayed. A few years ago, the fences of the government land near the Nesapakkam pumping station, erected on an expenditure of over ₹12 lakh, was pulled down in a few weeks by encroachers.”

He added, “The Revenue Department could set up an investigation division as in the Income Tax Department, besides handing those under its control the executive magisterial powers to impose fine on violators. There needs to be a strong deterrence, besides preventive measures”.

As in March this year, encroachment to an extent of 3,852.16.09 hectares of government land was cleared. This included 2,740.371 hectares of water course poromboke land, according to the Revenue Department. Legal options under the Tamil Nadu Tank Protection and Removal of Encroachment Act, 2007, the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, 1958, the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious Endowment Act, 1957, and the Tamil Nadu Wakf Board Act, 1995, are available for protecting government land.

Though the Tamil Nadu Land Encroachment Act, 1905, is exclusively for the Revenue Department, this Act has also been used to clear encroachments from the property of government departments that do not have exclusive laws. To prevent the illegal sale of ‘Bhoodan’ land administered by the Bhoodan Board, the value of the land is being notified as zero.

Presenting the 2022-23 Budget in the Assembly in March, Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan had said the State was making every effort to retrieve and protect government land, including waterbodies, from encroachments. A sum of ₹50 crore was provided as a special fund for this purpose.

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