The Madras High Court bench here has set aside an order of the junior engineer (JE) of the Periyar main canal section ordering eviction of the residents of Malayalathanpatti village from the bunds of the Nelliyenthal water channel.

A division bench comprising Justices V. Dhanapalan and M. Duraiswamy set aside the order based on a petition filed by around 17 residents of the village. The petitioners claimed that the villagers had settled on the bunds at least a century ago. The local authorities had laid roads and provided water and electricity supply to the village, they added.

The chief engineer (CE) of the water resources management in the Public Works Department (PWD) had passed an order last year directing the villagers to shift their houses on the grounds that they had encroached on the water channel. Denying the charge, the villagers had moved the High Court in February 2013 and a division bench had passed an order directing the PWD officials to consider their objections and pass an appropriate order, the petitioners claimed.

They had submitted their explanation to the district collector and requested the grant of pattas for their lands. However, the JE of the Periyar main canal section passed an order on September 13, 2013 ordering their eviction, they claimed.

The government advocate contended that the petitioners had submitted their objections to the collector, instead of the CE of the PWD, who was the appropriate authority. In their order, the judges set aside the JE’s notice on the grounds that the CE was the competent authority to hear the objections raised by the petitioners. They directed the CE to consider the objections of the petitioners within four weeks and pass an order.

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