The Madras High Court bench here directed the secretary of state health department to file a counter affidavit to a public interest litigation seeking directions to the health department to prevent the contamination of the Vaigai in Madurai.

The petitioner, S. Muthukumar, an advocate, filed the petition in 2011 alleging that the residents of Madurai dumped garbage and let sewage into the Vaigai.

He added that the sewage mixed with the drinking water pipelines in a few places, resulting in contamination of the water supply.

The health department and the Madurai Corporation failed to check the sewage leak into the drinking water supply, he contended.

“The pollution control board has the prime duty to protect the water channels from being polluted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. It is also the duty of the State government and the local development authorities to protect the water bodies from pollution and ensure the supply of clean and safe water to the public”, Mr Muthukumar said.

Therefore, he prayed that the High Court should direct the secretary of the health department, the Madurai collector and the commissioner of Madurai Corporation to prevent contamination of the Vaigai. The case was heard by a division bench comprising Justices N. Paul Vasantha Kumar and P. Devadass on Monday.

The judges noted that the court had already served notice to the secretary of the health department, but no counter was filed.

Therefore, the judges directed the secretary of the health department to file a counter on June 17, failing which he should appear in the court.

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