Tamil Nadu

Collect satellite images of all waterbodies in T.N., says HC

The Madras High Court on Tuesday expressed concern over numerous complaints of waterbodies disappearing every now and then due to encroachments. It directed the Collectors of all districts to collect satellite images of every taluk under their jurisdiction as on March 15 so that those images can serve as a reference point whenever any complaint of encroachment is raised in the future.

First Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy ordered that the satellite images of individual taluks must be uploaded on special websites to be created for the purpose by the district administration by March 17. Besides, a master file of such images, from every district, must be forwarded to the Chief Secretary in Portable Document Format (PDF) by March 24.

A copy of the images, covering the entire State, must also be handed over to the Registrar General of the High Court, the Bench said. The interim orders were passed during the hearing of a public interest litigation petition which complained about alleged disturbance caused to Perumpalla Odai, a 23.5 km long channel in Erode, under the guise of improvement works carried under the smart city scheme.

Observing that waterbodies were a sine qua non for human existence and that they could not be allowed to be encroached or even touched, the judges lamented that, unfortunately, there was flagrant disregard to whatever was left of ecology. Even the revenue authorities, tasked with the obligation of preserving the waterbodies, were failing in their duty to do so.

Warning that every Collector would remain personally liable for any damage caused to waterbodies in the future, the Bench ordered immediate collection of satellite images of the water bodies since the physical revenue records maintained in Taluk offices were susceptible to manipulations and there was every chance of the revenue officials erasing the existence of a waterbody from those records.

In so far as Perumpalla Odai was concerned, the Bench permitted the officials to continue with the construction works since it was claimed that no harm had been caused to the water channel. However, a word of caution was added stating that if the court finds out later that any construction had been made impeding the water course, it would be ordered to be demolished irrespective of the cost involved.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 1:36:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/collect-satellite-images-of-all-waterbodies-says-hc/article33974739.ece

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