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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Karmaveerar Kamaraj signature saves Govt Crores worth property !!

The earliest official residence of the Governors of Madras were in Fort St. George, the first one built in the 1640s on what is now the Parade Square.  This was pulled down in 1693 and a new one built eastwards where, in later years, it became the core of the Secretariat.  It was in the 1820s that Governor Thomas Munro (1820-27) made Government House the official residence and what has now grown into Raj Bhavan and was once Guindy Lodge, the Governor’s country house.  Raj Bhavan is situated in the Guindy Park Reserved Forest Area. The blackbuck, a near-threatened species of antelope, was introduced to Guindy Park by Lord Willingdon in 1924.

Kumarasami Kamaraj ,[K. Kamaraj] acknowledged as the "Kingmaker" in Indian politics during the 1960s, was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu during 1954–1963 and a Member of Parliament during 1952–1954 and 1967–1975. He was known for his simplicity and integrity. ~ his signature is still worth Crores of Rupees !!!

As the president of Indian National Congress, he was instrumental in navigating the party after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru and bringing to power two Prime Ministers - LalBahadurShastri in 1964 and Indira Gandhi in 1966.  Back home,  he is remembered for bringing school education to millions of the rural poor by introducing free education and the free Midday Meal Scheme during his tenure as chief minister. Kamaraj was first jailed in June 1930 for two years in Alipore Jail, Calcutta, for participation in the "Salt Satyagraha" led by Rajagopalachari at Vedaranyam.  In 1942 Kamaraj attended the All India Congress Committee in Bombay and returned to spread propaganda material for the "Quit India Movement" called by Gandhi. Kamaraj was imprisoned six times by the British for his pro-Independence activities, accumulating more than 3,000 days in jail.

In April 1954, Kamaraj became the Chief Minister of Madras Province. To everyone's surprise, Kamaraj nominated C. Subramaniam and M. Bhakthavatsalam, who had contested his leadership, to the newly formed cabinet.Kamaraj remained Chief Minister for three consecutive terms, winning elections in 1957 and 1962. Kamaraj passed away on 2nd Oct 1975 at the age of 72.

Today’s Times of India has this interesting report on his signature that has helped TN Govt to keep Rs.150 crore worth land. The State government will not have to return a prime 1.6-acre property opposite Raj Bhavan in Guindy valued at nearly `150 crore to its original owner more than half a century after it was acquired, thanks to a file noting signed by then chief minister K Kamaraj.
Kamaraj statue at Trichy bus stand

After being asked by the Madras high court in 2013 to hand over the land on Sardar Patel Road to the legal heirs of its original owner, the government filed a review petition in the court showing a file bearing Kamaraj's signature and clearly specifying the purpose of acquisition. The document of 1963 vintage, pulled out from the archives, helped convince a division bench of Justice V Ramasubramanian and Justice K Ravichandrabaabu to recall an earlier order to return the property . They also pointed out that the petitioners had packaged the case in an innocuous manner and described it as a property in Venkatapuram village, without revealing that it was located opposite Raj Bhavan and worth about `150 crore.

The property was acquired in August 1960 and a compensation of Rs.33,941 was paid to the owner, Manali Ramakrishna Mudaliar, in March 1961. Almost 45 years later, his legal heirs submitted a representation to the government seeking return of the land saying it was not put to use for the purpose for which it was acquired.They then moved the court, and in January 2007,  Court passed an innocuous order directing the government to consider the representation. The government rejected the request in March 2007.

The legal heirs of Mudaliar filed another petition.Justice K N Bashain Aug 2012,  asked the government to return the land, on repayment of the compensation amount of `33,947, on the ground that there was no clarity on the purpose of acquisition. A division bench upheld the order in January 2013, and the Supreme Court too the government's appeal in the case. The government then filed a fresh review petition, citing fresh materials. Referring to the note file, which says that the land was acquired for laying road, the judge said: “This note file bears the signature of all the officials right from the level of the deputy secretary up to the level of K Kamaraj, the then chief minister, who had approved it on April 13, 1963.“

The bench said the land measures about 1.62 acres (or about 70,632sqft) and the market value is Rs.14,000 per sqft.“Therefore, even by a modest estimate, the land is worth more than Rs.100 crore,“ it said.“Unfortunately , the respondents projected their case as though some land in some village known as Venkatapuram was acquired by the government more than four decades ago and they did not put it to use, thereby enabling them to make a claim for re-conveyance.”

However, people should remember the history, that such a popular leader and good person, in 1967, Kamaraj lost his seat in Virudunagar by 1285 votes to the student leader P. Seenivasanof DMK. He wasposthumously  awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1976. The domestic terminal of the Chennai airport is named "Kamaraj Terminal",- the beach road was renamed  "KamarajarSalai", Bangalore's North Parade Road as "K. Kamaraj Road" and the Madurai Kamaraj University also stands in his honour.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

9th Sept. 2015.

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