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Drive-in land to be developed a la Lalbagh

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: A green island in the midst of the city of international standards, on the lines of Lalbagh, is being planned in the place occupied till recently by the Woodlands Drive-in restaurant and the property opposite to it, by the Horticulture Society, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi informed the Assembly on Thursday.

The 320 ground property, worth over Rs.1,000 crore, was back in government hands after a struggle that lasted 30 years.

Explaining the sequence of events, Mr. Karunanidhi said the government had decided to take back the land for a public purpose and issued an order to this effect on August 5, 1989 [DMK was in power then]. The Society went to Court and a single judge stayed the government order on June 19, 1998. The government preferred an appeal on August 20, 1998 [DMK was in power]. The government pleader withdrew the appeal with the permission of the High Court on December 21, 2004. [The AIADMK was in power]. On March 3, 2006, the AIADMK government decided to hand over the entire land to the Horticulture Society. But since the State Assembly elections were announced by then and since the model code was in force, the order could not take effect.

After the DMK came back to power, it re-initiated the process to take back the land. The High Court condoned the delay on the part of the government and permitted it to file a case on April 4, 2007. The Society approached the Supreme Court contesting the High Court move. On May 16, 2007, the Supreme Court dismissed the Society’s petition. Following this, the High Court heard the case and on April 11, 2008, set aside the single judge order of June 19, 1998, staying the operation of the government order.

Mr. Karuanidhi also read out excerpts of the order in which the Court had made it clear that Drive-in Woodlands, to whom part of the land was on sub lease, could not continue operations.

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