Staff Reporter

At Thirumayam on a portion of ‘Vinayakan Kanmoi'

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here has refused to restrain the State government from constructing combined court buildings at Thirumayam in Pudukottai district on a portion of ‘Vinayakan Kanmoi' (water body) spread over 3.65 hectares.

Disposing of a public interest litigation petition, Justices F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla and K.B.K. Vasuki said that public interest was involved both in protecting waterbodies as well as constructing court buildings. It had to be ascertained which outweighed the other.

“Looked at from that point of view, we are of the opinion that by imposing certain severe restrictions, the respondent can be allowed to proceed,” judges said and directed the government to follow the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Protection of Tanks and Eviction of Encroachments Act, 2007. Section 12 of the Act empowered the government to alienate any portion of a water body in public interest. But, it was subject to the condition that the storage capacity of the waterbody concerned should be maintained without change, irrespective of such alienation.

Directing officials to abide by the statutory restrictions, the Judges said that it was for the government to take necessary steps to deepen the ‘kanmoi' besides fencing the area and cleaning the channels that acted as sources for the waterbody.

They also made it clear that the combined court buildings should not be constructed without obtaining a No Objection Certificate from the Public Works Department (Water Resources Organisation). Further, the State was restrained from alienating any other part of the ‘kanmoi' in future. The Bench pointed out that a Government Order (G.O.) was issued by the Revenue Department on February 5, 1998 allotting 0.22 out of 3.65 hectares of land classified as a waterbody in revenue records. The local panchayat had passed a resolution approving such allotment.

“Therefore… at this distant point of time, without any challenge to that G.O., it will not be appropriate for this court to interfere with such an allotment as that will also be detrimental to the interest of the public at large,” the judges observed.

“In the present day context, judiciary being the last resort, every resort should be taken to ensure that the common man, who seeks justice in a court of law, is provided with basic infrastructure and facilities. Equally, the members of the institution too should be provided with basic facilities,” the Bench added.