The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Bench, has rapped the Tirunelveli Collector and Sivagiri Tahsildar for their non-appearance in a case filed by the villagers of Nelkattumseval against the conversion of a stream into a road in Tirunelveli district.

R. Sundaraiah Thevar and R.Velusamy Thevar of Nelkattumseval village, Sivagiri taluk, filed an application before the National Green Tribunal, New Delhi seeking to restrain the authorities from converting the land into a road and further sought direction to maintain the subject survey land as it exists as per the revenue records. The application has been pending before the NGT since September last year.

The matter came up for hearing on Tuesday before the Tribunal’s Southern Bench comprising its judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and expert member R. Nagendran.

S. R. Sundaram, counsel for applicants, said that the respondents, the District Collector and Tashildar, failed to file their counter after receiving notice. He said the officials were indifferent to the Tribunal’s order.

Following his submission, the Tribunal said, "Looking at the conduct of the above officials, it would be indicative of a careless and indifferent attitude. Hence, we direct them to appear before the Tribunal on March 7."

In the application, the villagers said the application was filed on behalf of the villagers of Nelkattumseval and Gudalore. Around 10,000 villagers who are predominantly farmers depended on agriculture, which relied on the village ‘odai’ (stream).

The panchayat president, under the pretext of forming a new road, was attempting to misuse public funds, taking steps to convert the land into a road without obtaining approval from the revenue authorities, the villagers contended.