Following a Public Interest Litigation filed by a fisherman in Besant Nagar, a probe has been ordered by the Madras High Court to look into encroachments by the Anna Velankanni Church.
According to the Times of India, a joint probe by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority and the Chennai Corporation has been ordered to inspect the churchâ€™s encroachment of a water body in Odaima Nagar.
As per a report in The Hindu, a division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and P Rajamanickam directed the investigating authorities to file a report regarding the matter by June 5, â€śalong with supporting documents and photographs.â€ť
A famous tourist spot as well as a place of worship for many in the city and the world over, the Church is located on the far south east of the beach, leading to Tiger Varadachari Road.
The PIL filed by Gopi a fisherman from the Odaikuppam hamlet contends that the church has encroached on a water body in addition to being in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone. According to The New Indian Express, the PIL requested the removal of unauthorised constructions put up by the shrine.
Times of India also quotes Gopi as saying, â€śThere used to be a pond in the hamlet which is our only source of drinking water, as we live close to the shore. This also reflects in the revenue records prior to 1987.â€ť
According to the petitionerâ€™s counsel, legal recourse was sought after the petitioner found that the church had announced the construction of a new building. Counsel Suryaprakash reportedly said, â€śEvery time the villagers make complaints to the authorities, assurance is given that the encroachment would be removed and steps would be taken to restore the pond. But to the shock of the petitioner, a huge board has been put by the church management informing the public that a new church is going to be constructed on the land. The church is trying to build a new structure not only on the encroached water body, but also violating coastal regulation, within 100 meters from the high tideline of the shore.â€ť