Taking suo motu cognisance of a report in The Hindu highlighting the plight of residents of five fishing hamlets in the Pulicat area, the Madras High Court has granted time till August 19 for the State government to respond in the matter.

The order was passed by the First Bench comprising the Acting Chief Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan.

A photo-story, ‘Wading through hardship’, published on July 21, highlighted the suffering of the children of five fishing hamlets — Pasiyavaram Kuppam, Rahmat Nagar, Idamanikuppam, Idamani Colony and Satankuppam. The children, after removing their shoes and socks at the water’s edge, wade through brackish waters extending over 950 metres in the Pulicat lake to attend school. They are forced to walk carefully on a path of mud in order to avoid getting trapped in slush.

For a long time, the residents had been demanding the construction of a bridge over the lake which is the second largest brackish water body in the country.

The Government Pleader, S.T.S. Moorthy, asked for the environment and forest department of the State government to be added as a party-respondent in the case. The Bench said the official was being impleaded suo motu.

The GP sought time to file a counter. The court has posted the matter for further hearing on August 19.