Tamil Nadu

Give complete information on all waterbodies within a week: HC

Data deficit: The government has provided the details of waterbody encroachments with respect to only nine district  

The Madras High Court has directed the Chief Secretary to file within a week a complete list of waterbodies in every district, the number of waterbodies being encroached, the number of encroachments evicted, the number of encroachments yet to be evicted and the time frame within which all encroachments would be removed.

Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu issued the direction after Additional Advocate General J. Ravindran submitted a status report providing details of waterbody encroachments with respect to only nine districts. The judges ordered that details pertaining to all 38 districts should be submitted by December 8. They warned that the court would be left with no option but to summon the officials concerned if the details are not submitted within the stipulated time. They noted that the information had been sought as early as on January 28, 2019.

A Division Bench of Justice K.K. Sasidharan (since retired) and Justice Audikesavalu had ordered the consolidation of data on waterbodies across the State and submission of a detailed report. The court had taken serious note of encroachment of waterbodies occurring unabatedly in spite of several court orders having been passed in the last 15 years. Referring to all the orders passed since 2005 and the enactment of the Tamil Nadu Protection of Tanks and Eviction of Encroachment Act of 2007, the judges said the Comptroller and Auditor General had said the 2007 Act had failed to protect the waterbodies from encroachments.

 

According to the CAG, the first step towards preventing encroachments was to fix the boundaries of all waterbodies through a survey. But no such survey was done by the Water Resources Department. The CAG had also pointed out that 49% of the total objectionable encroachments were on waterbodies, and yet, there were inherent limitations to the 2017 Act as it did not cover encroachments on smaller irrigation tanks and ooranis (natural springs).

Taking note of the report, the High Court had, in January 2019, directed the Chief Secretary to take note of the shortcomings highlighted by the CAG and file an ‘action taken’ report. He was also directed to collate data on all waterbodies in the State.


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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 5:40:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/give-complete-information-on-all-waterbodies-within-a-week-hc/article37798704.ece

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