Chennai Corporation To Demolish Century Old Amman Temple For Metro Construction – Home – The Commune

Chennai News

Despite assurances to the court that monuments and temple structure would not be used for the Metro Rail project, Chennai Corporation has issued a demolition notice for the Sri Kaliamman Temple in Virugambakkam.

Arulmigu Sri Sundara Varadaraja Perumal Temple said to be at least 800 years old temple is located in the Virugambakkam suburb of Chennai. The Sunguvar Brahmin community had donated lands in the region for the maintenance of the temple.

As per 1910 records, these lands were shown being under the Taluk Board which over a period of time were encroached on by land sharks. The temple pond however existed which was also gobbled up by encroachments. The erstwhile temple pond is now a garbage dump.

A Muslim party had tried to grab a portion of this land belonging to the temple to build a mosque. The local mosque committee, which planned to build a mosque registered three acres of the illegally occupied land in its name with the help of government officials.

After a long drawn court struggle, the Chennai collector rejected Muslim party’s claims and restored the lands to the Taluk Board. Since these lands are in the name of the Taluk Board, efforts are underway to reclaim the land and the temple pond in the temple’s name.

Adjacent to the Sri Sundara Varadaraja Perumal Temple is a small Kaliamman temple which also has a pond that currently has been encroached and efforts to reclaim this pond are also under way.

Controversy erupted, when the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) attempted to take over the temple and its pond for Metro work in December 2020. According to reports, the Metro work was originally planned on private lands near the temple, but the GCC changed its mind and decided to lay metro lanes through the temple.

In June 2022, the Madras High Court dismissed a writ petition filed against the takeover of the lands of Sri Sundara Varadaraja Perumal Temple and Thirukkachi Nambigal Temple in Poonnamalle, Chennai.

However, the aforementioned order was issued after the Advocate General of Tamil Nadu assured the Madras High Court (WP 12697/2022) that there was no proposal to harm any of the monuments or temple structures and that they would be protected. He also stated that only vacant or acquired commercial land will be used for the Metro Rail project.

It should be noted that the Madras High Court had previously issued an order on November 5, 2020, while hearing a batch of petitions against the encroachment of temple land, stating that the temple land should not be used for other purposes. The court observed that temples in Tamil Nadu are not only a source of identification of the ancient culture but also a testimony to the pride and knowledge of talent in the fields of arts, science, and sculpture. The Madras High Court also rebuked the HR&CE Department, which is the custodian of temple properties, for failing to protect the temple’s interests.

In this situation, the Assistant Executive Engineer of the GCC has written to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Chennai, seeking protection for the removal of encroachments.

The letter states: “According to Greater Chennai Corporation records, the Kaliamman Temple at Kaliammankoil street (Virugambakkam Village Block No.21 T.S No.20.) is encroached upon by the Temple Trust to the extent of 60.80 sq.m, which is vested with the Greater Chennai Corporation. The aforementioned encroachments are interfering with Metro Rail construction and causing inconvenience to the public. On November 23, 2022, a notice was issued to the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments.”

The GCC, which attempted to take over the temple for Metro work, has found another way to demolish the temple by labeling the temple as an encroachment.

Hindu Munnani in a press release condemned the DMK government’s action and urged people to gather to protest the GCC’s decision to demolish the temple. The press release states: “The demolition of Arulmigu Sri Sundara Varadaraja Perumal Temple and Mahakaliamman Temple in Virugambakkam, Chennai is highly condemnable.Despite filing a formal petition to grant a title deed to the temple, no approval was given for years. According to the Supreme Court judgment (Case No. WP 574/2015) dated 07-06-2021, it has been ruled that any ancient temple should not be affected by road expansion in government projects and ancient symbols should not be affected. Archaeologists recently examined the temple and concluded that it is an ancient temple.”

The Greater Chennai Corporation’s Junior Engineer (JE) has stated that the Mahakaliamman temple will be demolished on Friday (23 December 2022).

“It is the primary responsibility of the Hindu community living in this region to protect our deity. Therefore, we kindly request all the residents of the area to come together with their families to protect the temple.”, the Hindu Munnani said.

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