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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Don’t encroach water bodies in the name of development projects: Madras HC

The court gave the advice while listening to a PIL filed by a petitioner who alleged that the contractors engaged by the Tamil Nadu Road Development Corporation (TNRDC) were destroying the water ways and bodies in Padur for OMR Phase II project, near Chennai.

By: PTI | Chennai |
July 16, 2021 9:49:01 am
According to the petitioner, the water sources in his village were being obliterated due to the project. (File)

The Madras High Court on Thursday advised the Tamil Nadu government to not encroach water bodies and ways in the name of development projects.

The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy gave the advice while entertaining a PIL petition from S Sridhar, a resident of Padur.

The petitioner alleged that the contractors engaged by the Tamil Nadu Road Development Corporation (TNRDC) were destroying the water ways and bodies in Padur for the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) Phase II project, near Chennai.

“Many constructions over there involve desecration of water bodies. The state cannot indulge in such things. Development has to be sustainable,” the bench said and asked government counsel to file within three weeks, a status report on the issue from TNRDC.

According to the petitioner, the water sources in his village were being obliterated due to the project.

While the TNRDC had protected the water bodies in Kelambakkam village by constructing bridges at appropriate places, it has chosen to construct the expressway right on the water bodies in Padur, which was inhabited by more than 20,000 families dependent on those water bodies.

Even the cattle and the birds had been deprived of the water sources.

He claimed that the civil contractors engaged by TNRDC had destroyed the Kalleri lake and Padur pond, which were home to fish, snails and other living organisms.

The two water bodies were now filled with debris. The groundwater table in Padur had gone down from 80 ft in 2006 to 200 ft now.

He urged the court to declare the encroachment of water bodies as ‘illegal’ and order their restoration besides initiating action against the erring officials.

Meanwhile, hearing a separate petition, the bench permitted the state government to use GPS and drone technology to take accurate surveys of waterways and water bodies in Tamil Nadu.

“It may be a worthwhile exercise to use various modes, including the GPS technology together with the drone photography on the one hand and physical survey on the other, if only to have accurate details of the topography and the nature of the space on ground that can be dated,” it said.

This may not only help the revenue, but may also be a guide for the Town and Country Planning authorities, be a reference point for environmental impact assessment or a regular reference for specialised bodies as the Pollution Control Boards, the National Green Tribunal and the like, the bench added.

The PIL questioned the beautification of Perumpallam Odai in Erode under the Smart City Mission with more than Rs 100 crore of central financing.

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