DMK MLA challenges amendment to Town Planning Act

‘It will deprive landowners of information with regard to land acquisition’

DMK MLA P.T.R. Palanivel Thiagarajan moved the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday challenging the amendment to the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act. It would deprive landowners of any information with regard to acquisition of lands for development, he said.

In his Public Interest Litigation petition, Mr. Thiagarajan said the Act and related Rules were framed with an objective of planning development and using rural and urban lands. While developing rural and urban lands it was inevitable for the State to acquire certain private lands. The Act provided safeguards for the landowners, he said.

The Act mandated authorities to prepare a detailed development plan before acquiring any private property. Once the plan was prepared by the Local Planning Authority and submitted to the Director for approval, the plan and purpose for acquiring the property would be notified in the gazette.

Section 21 of the Act mandated the planning authority to consult landowners before preparing development plans. Section 20 (2)(b) of the Act mandated that details of the owners be mentioned in the development plan, so that the owners were aware that the property had been proposed for acquisition, the petitioner said.

Further, Section 20 (2)(C) of the Act mandated that the plan should mention whether the area under the plan was private or public. This would inform the general public, particularly the owners, the status of their lands/buildings with respect to the plan, he said.

However, the amendment notified in 2020, took away the process of consultation of owners, which had been made mandatory. The amendment also took away the details of the owners to be included in the development plan and a new clause was introduced stating ‘area covered by the plan’, he said.

Mr. Thiagarajan said this would keep the landowner in the dark without any information with regard to land acquisition. The original Act made these provisions mandatory so that the landowners could object or seek a fair compensation.

A Division Bench of Justices M.M. Sundresh and S. Ananthi ordered notice to the State and observed that any acquisition made under the amendment would be subject to the outcome of the proceedings on the petition.

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