The Andhra Pradesh Lokayukta has taken suo motu cognisance of a report on encroachments of the Penna riverbed titled ‘Major push for Rejuvenation of Penna River’ published in The Hindu edition dated March 24, 2021 and ordered the Anantapur district Collector to initiate action.
The news report highlighted the structures including the NTR Bhavan, a two-storied tourist guesthouse, a park, building of a government-run residential school and other private encroachments on the riverbed.
Taking notice of the issue, Lokayukta Justice P. Lakshamana Reddy, in an order on Thursday, said that a committee headed by the Collector should check the ground reality. “The panel should include an academician with the expertise on environmental issue or an environmentalist. The committee should submit a report within three months, along with an action plan for removal of the encroachments,” the order said.
“It is time to take action against such illegal encroachments. This Institution (Lokayukta) is of the view that it is desirable to consider the news Item and the other available information as source material to exercise the powers conferred under Section 7 (3) of the A.P. Lokayukta Act and the Rule 2 (viii) and Rule 5 of the A.P. Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta (Investigation) Rules. The office is directed to register these proceedings as a suo motu complaint.” the order said.
The committee should identify the riverbed areas in Tadipatri that have been subjected to encroachments including those by the government. It should prepare an action plan to restore the encroached areas. The panel should also identify the measures to be taken immediately to check further encroachment such as fixing the boundaries of the Penna. It should list out all prohibited, regulated, or permitted activities in the Penna riverbed area, the order added.
The Lokayukta said the Anantapur Collector; the Commissioner of Tadipatri Municipality; the Superintending Engineer of the APSPDCL (Anantapur), the Chief Engineer (Projects), Water Resources Department; the District Panchayat Officer; the Revenue Divisional Officer (Anantapur), the Sub-Divisional Police Officer (Tadipatri) and the Chief Executive Officer of the A.P. Tourism Authority, Vijayawada should be made parties or respondents to the case.