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Bring law to curb illegal groundwater tapping throughout TN: HC

There are no effective provisions in the Indian Penal Code to combat illegal extraction of water.

Published: 13th October 2019 05:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th October 2019 05:09 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: A division bench of the Madras High Court has directed the State government to bring out a legislation to effectively ensure that persons involved in illegal and indiscriminate extraction of groundwater are dealt with firm and iron hands.


"This court is aware that a writ cannot be passed directing the State government to bring out the legislation. However, this court requests the State to pass the legislation to cover the entire State of Tamil Nadu to combat the issue of depletion of groundwater," the bench of Justice S Manikumar (since promoted as Chief Justice and posted to Kerala High Court) and Justice Subramonium said.


The judges were disposing of a public interest writ petition from one V Sheela praying for a direction to take necessary action against the illegal extraction of groundwater from a vacant land owned by one Devaraj situated near Om Sakthi hotel on Selliyamman Koil Street in Kattupakkam, by considering her representation dated April 19, 2019. There were similar six petitions from the others.


The bench pointed out that groundwater is depleting in the State at an alarming rate. The Chennai Metropolitan Area Ground Water (Regulation) Act only regulates the extraction of water in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts. Since Tamil Nadu Ground Water (Development and Management) Act has been repealed, there is no legislation to regulate the extraction of water in the State other than the three districts. The State government is aware that there are pockets in the State where there is over-exploitation of groundwater. The Government has, therefore, resorted to invoking the powers under Article 162 of the Constitution to bring out the GOs covering the three districts only There is no machinery to ensure that violators of the directions in the said GOs can be proceeded with under criminal law. There are no effective provisions in the Indian Penal Code to combat illegal extraction of water. The State government, therefore, has to bring out effective legislation to ensure that persons involved in illegal and indiscriminate extraction of groundwater are dealt with firm and iron hands and extension of the same to all other districts.


Holding that the government should properly implement the Chennai Metropolitan Area Ground Water (Regulation) Act, the bench also directed the Collectors of Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur to maintain a register of the existing wells in their areas mentioned in the schedule to the Act. No vehicle should be permitted to transport groundwater without obtaining a valid license under Sec.5 of the Act. The Collectors must ensure that the vehicles indulging in illegal transportation are seized under Sec.12A and vested with the State after confiscation by following the procedure under Sec.12 of the Act. Similarly, the motor-pumps and other paraphernalia should also be vested with the State, the bench added.



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