CHENNAI: Persons who have encroached upon waterbodies and waterways are not entitled to any sort of flood relief payable from the tax payers’ money, the Madras High Court has ruled.
Justice S M Subramaniam gave the ruling while dismissing a batch of writ petitions from encroachers, who have built houses on such waterbodies and later claimed pattas.
Encroachers on waterbodies and water resources are causing greater infringement of the fundamental rights of all other citizens and hence, they must be construed as grave offenders, the judge said.
Earlier, the government advocate submitted that the properties under the occupation of the petitioners are waterbodies and hence, the officials concerned are right in denying pattas in their favour.
The judge said he was of the strong opinion that it had become a routine affair in the State, more specifically in and around Chennai city, for greedy persons to encroach upon government poromboke lands, waterbodies and water resources and later seek pattas.
Such encroachments on the vast extent are happening certainly with the collusion and connivance of a few greediest officials and with the support of some local politicians. Any right-thinking person can never tolerate the illegal activities of such encroachers and the land mafias, the judge said.
“Chennai had faced enough floods during previous years. Every year during rainy season, people are afraid and their minds are under stress. They are expecting floods even for small range of rains. It is the duty of the State to remove such apprehensions from the minds of the citizen of the city and all over the state. The citizens must feel free that even if there are large-scale rains, the State is capable of handling them. However, the present situation is not providing any such guarantee or scope because of large-scale encroachments on waterbodies,” judge added.
Asserting that the court is duty-bound to make an attempt to ensure that the administrators of the State are upholding the constitutional perspectives by maintaining the ecological balance and maintaining waterbodies and water resources, so as to protect human lives in a peaceful manner, the judge directed the Chennai District Collector to remove all such encroachments across the city, within eight weeks.
The Collector was further directed to conduct an enquiry into various illegalities and irregularities regarding all such encroachment issues and in the event of negligence, collusion, misconduct or dereliction of duty on the part of the government officials, to initiate appropriate prosecutions against such officials.