Chennai Metrowater has the right of way to private lands to lay pipelines for drinking water and sewerage, and the court will not issue a direction to it to take a pipeline in a different direction, the Madras High Court has said. Rejecting the plea of a petitioner, Justice V. Ramasubramanian noted that under Section 63 of the Chennai Metrowater Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) Act, the board had powers to lay pipelines for drinking water and sewerage.

It was true that the Act appeared very draconian as even without acquiring someone’s property, it enabled the board to establish and maintain any system across any property. That by itself might not persuade him to issue a direction to the authorities, the judge said.

However, Justice Ramasubramanian said the authorities should ensure that least possible damage or hardship to the petitioner was caused. She should also be compensated for any damage as per the statute’s provisions. The authorities should ensure, to the extent possible, that the petitioner’s plan to put up a commercial complex in the land was not spoiled and her suggestions considered while laying the pipeline.

The petitioner, Maria Ramesh’s case was that, by a September 30, 2010 order, the Special Deputy Collector (Land Acquisition), Tamil Nadu Town Development Plan-III, Poonamallee, informed her that her land measuring nearly 2,400 sq.feet was required for widening the road.

By another proceeding in November 2010, the CMWSSB informed the petitioner that the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company proposed to lay a pipeline underneath her land for a desalination plant coming up at Vadanemili. She sent a representation opposing the taking over of her land.

However, on March 5, CMWSSB workers wanted to demolish the petitioner’s compound wall to enable them to lay a pipeline. The petitioner submitted that the pipeline could be laid on the western side of the road. She also sought the appointment of an advocate commissioner to assess the situation.

In her petition, she sought that the authorities should not in any manner interfere with peaceful possession and enjoyment of her land off the East Coat Road at Sholinganallur II village, without passing orders on her objections to the special deputy collector’s proceedings.

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Law & OrderSeptember 24, 2010

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