The Madras High Court on Tuesday pulled up the Tamil Nadu government for not taking adequate steps to handle the water crisis in Chennai despite two failed monsoon seasons.
Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad, who earlier sought a reply from the government on a number of steps they had taken up to handle the water crisis, orally observed that the government did not take adequate steps even if the water crisis in the wake of failed monsoons was expected.
The court was hearing cases filed against the commercial exploitation of groundwater from the outskirts of the city, including a PIL from a resident of Vellore district, who alleged that sewage was being allowed to flow through into a water channel.
While the government explained steps they had taken up to handle the water crisis and the progress in new desalination projects, besides steps taken with regard to encroachments, the court suo moto impleaded the secretary of Public Works Department (PWD) in the case and directed to submit a state-wide comprehensive report on the number of reservoirs in the state, steps taken for desilting, amount sanctioned, and status of those works.
The court observed that some of the water bodies have been destroyed or reduced in size due to encroachment. “Encroachment is also said to be one of the causes of the reduction of storage capacity of lakes and water bodies. The PWD secretary who is vested with the custody of preserving the lakes is also directed to submit a detailed report of the steps taken for the removal of encroachment. The secretary is directed to issue a circular to all district collectors to submit details about the action taken for removal of encroachments in water bodies,” the court said.
The court also sought a report on the desalination projects taken up by the government and information about plans for additional desalination plant.
The case has been posted for further hearing on June 26.