CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu government is penny wise and pound foolish, as it is hesitating to spend a few crores of rupees on GPS equipment to measure and protect its land worth several thousand crores, said the Madras high court, cautioning the authorities that the court would resort to direct action to save public land if there is any further delay.
The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, passing further orders on a PIL filed by VBR Menon of K K Nagar, said: “We are of the view that the petitioner is right in contending that the solution to have a proper record is only through the process of GPS. Surprisingly, only one GPS is stated to have been obtained by the state government. While the government lands would run into thousand and thousand crores of rupees, it would be penny wise and pound foolish not to acquire the requisite GPS to see that the government is able to protect its lands.”
In this regard, the judges referred to Menon’s statement that GPS acquisition is a central scheme wherein the central government would offer 100% subsidy to the state government, and said, “He submits that all that is required is one GPS per district and thus, only 32 GPS devices would be required. The market cost of which ranges from 10 lakh up to whatever be the price at which ELCOT will procure it. We are, thus, talking in terms of a budget of 3 to 4 crore, that also fully centralised funds to obtain GPS and to ensure that the correct picture is with the state government.”
Making it clear that the proposal could not brook any further delay, the judges pointed out that a Centralised Task Force set up by the state government as per the GO dated March 7, 2001 has not achieved its objective.
Though 15 years had gone by, there has been no prevention of further encroachment of government lands, they said, adding: “This very issue of Centralised Task Force and its operation would have to be re-looked into by the state government.”
They also sounded a word of caution, saying: “We are of the view that these are all matters of public trust, which the state government must now promptly look into, otherwise there will be little option but for direct intervention by courts to protect government lands.”
In his petition, Menon sought a direction to state revenue department and highways department to form a permanent special task force with adequate powers and responsibilities to conduct periodical inspections, field surveys and removal of encroachments from all categories of vacant government lands in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts, and to take appropriate actions to ensure proper utilization of each properties, including disposals of excess lands, withing a prescribed time limit.
Credits ET Realty