The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has noted that a permanent committee to monitor the rejuvenation of water bodies has not been formed yet, despite a year since directions were passed in this regard.
The Bench, which is hearing different petitions on the encroachment of lakes, including those in Vandalur, Ambattur, and Kovilambakkam, had directed the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, on August 8, 2022, to form a permanent committee with the department secretaries of Municipal Administration and Water Supply, Environment, Revenue and others to oversee implementation of waste management rules and the restoration of lakes.
“Even after a passage of one year time, such a committee has not been constituted. Let a reply be filed in this regard, failing which, the matter will be viewed seriously, summoning the officials concerned to be present before this Tribunal,” the NGT said on August 10.
The Bench, comprising Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member Satya Kolarpati, was hearing a case taken up suo moto based on a news report that said the Kovilambakkam lake that had an original total extent of 180 acres, was subject to large-scale encroachments by miscreants and some government departments, resulting in the lake being used as a garbage dumping yard, and its reduction in size to 70 acres.
Referring to an earlier order, the Bench said the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has to monitor the implementation of the Waste Management Rules as per the directions of the Principal Bench of the NGT. “However, no report has been filed and no monitoring is done by the TNPCB. Let the TNPCB issue separate notices to the Block Development Officer – St. Thomas Mount Panchayat Union and also to the Commissioner - Tambaram City Municipal Corporation in this regard,” the Bench added.
The Bench ordered the TNPCB to immediately make an inspection of the areas concerned and file a report, along with photographs, with latitude and longitude details of the area.