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Madras HC castigates govt officials over encroachments on water bodies

🔴. Irked over the inaction on the part of the government officials concerned and visibly not satisfied with the counter-affidavit filed by the Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu, as directed earlier, the Bench asked him to appear before them on December 16.

By: PTI | Chennai |
Updated: December 9, 2021 11:15:44 am
The Madras High Court in Chennai. (File)

Squarely blaming the government officials concerned for the present state of floods and inundations in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court on Wednesday castigated them for their lethargic attitude in allowing encroachments on water bodies, waterways and channels.

The government officials concerned can never be pardoned.

“What for are they paid? For sitting (idly) in their rooms? Enough is enough. The officers must face the consequences. No more leniency can be shown,” the First Bench of Acting Chief Justice M N Bhandari and Justice P D Audikesavalu said when the batch of PIL petitions seeking removal of encroachments came up for further hearing today.

Irked over the inaction on the part of the government officials concerned and visibly not satisfied with the counter-affidavit filed by the Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu, as directed earlier, the Bench asked him to appear before them on December 16.

The court, however, observed that the State government cannot be blamed for the failures on the part of its officials.

Earlier, in his counter (status report), the Chief Secretary submitted that the State government has taken a decision to evolve a policy to protect the water bodies. Towards this, it has established a separate Ministry for Water Resources and an independent secretariat department, for effective management of water resources, headed by an officer in the rank of Additional Chief Secretary, has been formed.

At a recent meeting in which the respective secretaries and higher-ups participated, state-run power utility TANGEDCO has been directed not to give fresh electricity connection to encroachments. No water/sewerage connections would be given to them.

The Registration department was directed to verify the veracity of the lands before registration. There should be no approval for construction of any building on water course ‘poramboke’ land and they would not be registered. No government buildings would be constructed in the water courses. The district Collectors were instructed to shift the encroachers gradually and prepare action plans.

The Revenue and Water Resources department were told to select a list of 50 top water bodies in Chennai and other important places and to erect boundaries with special stones. Local bodies were instructed not to dump waste materials in water bodies. All necessary actions would be taken to evict the encroachments and preserve them, in a phased manner.

The report also regretted that stay orders given by various courts in the Sstate were hampering the efforts of the government to remove the encroachments. As many as 208 such stay orders were there against eviction proceedings of the government. However, it was taking keen steps to vacate the stay orders and remove the encroachments.

The government was also engaged in desilting all types of water bodies. Under the World Bank-assisted TN Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation Project, as long as 3,910 km supply channels have been rehabilitated. To harvest water, check dams and recharge ponds were being constructed. Water bodies were being renovated.

The government has a zero tolerance policy towards the unrelenting stress on water bodies due to encroachments and will work towards their eviction, by keeping a constant vigil in curbing the encroachments, thereby restoring the ecological balance and supporting biodiversity, the counter added.

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