CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to chalk out a pilot programme for clearing major waterbodies of encroachments and rehabilitating the evicted occupants.
The First Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu said, “It is imperative that in a State which does not have any perennial river, water bodies and channels of seasonal flowing water are left undisturbed, if only to ensure the future survival of the human race in this part of the world.”
The bench, while issuing orders on a batch of petitions, suggested the pilot programme to be based on the experience of removing encroachments in the Chitlapakkam lake in Chennai.
As far as the Chitlapakkam lake is concerned, official respondents have said they have identified 403 encroachers and have issued notices to them. Referring to the claims of the occupants that they were there for a longer time up to 50 years, and had obtained electricity connections and water supply, the court said the occupants must be able to assert their right on the basis of documents of title, without which their respective claims can scarcely be accepted.
“As a first step, all further attempts at encroachment should be dealt with in a strict manner by the State keeping a constant vigil,” it said.
Pointing out that waterbodies continue to be encroached despite several directions from the court, the judges said the State has to obtain and create a catalogue of satellite images of all waterbodies from the taluk to the district and the State level, geo-reference the same, and preserve it with a copy submitted to the court.“... so that in future the Indian rope trick cannot be pulled on waterbodies and they cease to evaporate or disappear,” they stated.
No more tricks!
Saying that waterbodies continue to be encroached, the judges said the State should create a catalogue of satellite images of waterbodies, geo-reference them, and submit a copy to the court. “... so that in future, the Indian rope trick cannot be pulled on waterbodies”
number of encroachers that official respondents in Chennai’s Chitlapakkam lake case had identified. They had also issued notices to them