Tamil Nadu

Frame norms for borewells: HC

Collectors directed to identify water bodies and tag them on Google maps

Indiscriminate drilling of borewells to draw groundwater may soon become a thing of the past as the Madras High Court has directed the State government to frame regulations with respect to the breadth and depth up to which the earth could be drilled for drawing groundwater in both residential and commercial buildings.

Expressing serious concern over the depleting groundwater table, a Division Bench of Justices Huluvadi G. Ramesh and RMT. Teekaa Raman expanded the scope of a 2015 writ petition filed with respect to desilting of a waterbody at Kathirampatti village in Erode district and issued a set of 12 directions to the government officials.

One of those directions stated that it was high time the State government did some self introspection with respect to borewells being dug as deep as 700 feet and frame regulations against “haphazard digging of borewells so that a healthy water table can be maintained and depletion of groundwater can be minimised.” Further, observing that “depletion of water is a major concern and shortfall in the monsoon has increased the need for preservation and maintenance of water level,” the Bench directed all 32 Collectors in the State to identify all water bodies within their territorial jurisdiction and tag them on Google maps.

Stating that the data could be hosted on government websites, the judges said: “In cases where the water bodies had been erased from the land, though reflecting in the map, and against which litigations are pending in the judicial forum, such of those details be also hosted on the web so as to keep the citizens abreast of the details.”

‘Preserve water bodies’

The court said it was the fundamental duty of every citizen to extend his fullest cooperation in maintaining ecological balance and a duty was cast upon the village heads and other residents to take all necessary steps to preserve water bodies within their locality and inform officials concerned about encroachment of water bodies.

“Whenever any encroachment on a water body is brought to the notice of the police officials by the revenue authorities or public- minded persons, the police authorities shall render all immediate assistance, including registration of First Information Reports wherever necessary, to the revenue authorities for removing the said encroachments,” the judges ordered.

Sanctions use of force

Directing the revenue officials to remove encroachments on water bodies by following the due process of law, the Bench gave liberty to them to remove the encroachments “by use of force” if the encroachers refuse to comply with orders passed as per law.

The court also wanted the officials to push for the speedy disposal of cases related to such encroachments.

“The Civil Courts are restrained from entertaining any petition for injunction relating to encroachment on water bodies, even if any title documents are produced and in such of those cases, the government or the person concerned is at liberty to move this court for direction,” the Division Bench led by Mr. Justice Ramesh ordered.

The Bench made it clear that the Collectors should constitute district-level committees under their leadership and include the Superintendents of Police and revenue officials in those committees to monitor the execution of the 12 directions issued by the court in the interest of preserving water sources.

Since only 18 Collectors had filed individual reports in the court with respect to removal of encroachments from water bodies, despite several directions issued to all 32 of them, the judges directed the rest of the 13 Collectors to be present in the court on October 12 for “enlightening them about the need for preservation of water bodies.”

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 11:39:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/frame-norms-for-borewells-hc/article19803967.ece

Next Story