Chennai: Coming down hard on encroachments on and along water bodies, which allegedly led to flooding in many areas of Chennai, the Madras High court today made it clear there should be no further intrusions, nor dumping of garbage or solid waste, and directed the Tamil Nadu government to take steps in this regard.
“The encroachments as well as preventing the dumping of garbage and solid waste are concerned, we are of the view that this matter needs urgent attention.
The concerned authorities are thus directed to ensure there is no further encroachment or re-encroachment in the water areas nor dumping garbage and solid waste is permitted,” the court said while passing interim orders on the issue.
The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana also directed the government to file a counter in four weeks, explaining steps taken to desilt three main waterways and also to incorporate in it suggestions of an expert committee which has to be appointed, to effectively drain the flood water into the sea.
The bench gave the direction on a PIL by city-based NGO Manuneedhi Consumer And Environmental Protection Centre, seeking preservation and protection of water canals which carry surplus water into the sea.
The petitioner also sought a direction to authorities to immediately take steps for identification of the entire length and breadth of Cooum, Adayar and Buckingham Canal and also barricading the river boundaries to avoid further encroachment or re-encroachments in the water areas.
The petitioner submitted that Chennai Metropolitan area is traversed by three major waterways carrying water from catchment areas to the sea — Kosathalaiyar on the North, Cooum in the middle and Adayar on the southern side. These three rivers connect to major reservoir lakes Sholavaram lake, Chemerambakkam Lake, Porur Lake and address the drinking water needs of Chennai.
The NGO attributed the recent floods in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur Districts to “the apparent and manifest failure of preventive means, mitigating the situation and crisis management on the part of authorities.”
It referred to reports submitted by experts in 1943 and 1976, which had given recommendations for prevention of damage of floods and said none had been effectively implemented.
Citing various HC orders, it said the HC had pointed to “government apathy” to illegal activities like encroachments on water bodies and had come down heavily on the “unholy nexus between the government machinery and the private individuals”.
The bench said the issue of barricading would be examined in the main petition itself and posted the matter to January 9 while issuing notice to Government Pleader S T S Moorthy and others and directing filing of the counter within four weeks.
Another PIL by lawyer Suryaprasakasam to form micro managing committees was taken up suo motu by the bench, which appointed senior counsel Yashodvardhan as Amicus curiae and directed the government to place relevant papers before him.