File criminal cases against those stealing water: Madras HC

The mindset among farmers and the general public that water is common and they can tap it as they like is a wrong notion and unlawful, he added.

Published: 11th January 2022 05:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th January 2022 05:07 AM   |  A+A-

Madras High Court.

Madras High Court.

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: In a move to prevent illegal extraction of water, the Madras High Court on Monday directed government authorities to register criminal cases against those involved in water theft and blacklist them from availing agricultural loans and subsidies.

Justice SM Subramaniam, while disposing of writ petitions on water theft in the Parambikulam-Aliyar Division canal, directed officials of the Water Resources Organisation (WRO) of Tamil Nadu Public Works Department, the Police and the Revenue department to initiate punitive action with the help of the Agriculture department and Horticulture department. “... blacklist persons/farmers against whom criminal cases are registered (for water theft) from availing of government welfare schemes of agriculture loans, subsidies for seeds and fertilisers,” the court said.

The judge said that equal distribution of water to all eligible ayacutdars is a constitutional mandate and the authorities have to ensure equal and judicious distribution to all eligible farmers and ayacutdars. Any irregularities and illegalities must be viewed seriously. As water is precious and essential, distribution of it cannot be at whims and fancies. The mindset among farmers and the general public that water is common and they can tap it as they like is a wrong notion and unlawful, he added.

Pointing to Tamil Nadu’s long fight with neighbouring States for due share of river water and formation of tribunals to ensure it, Subramaniam said ironically the government departments within (the State) are unable to prevent water theft.

Referring to novel methods employed by offenders, he ordered authorities to utilise latest surveillance technology such as drones to trace and nab the offenders of illegal extraction of water. The petitions were filed by K Paramasivam, former chairman of Thirumoorthy Reservoir Project Committee, and had sought to quash the orders issued by the Executive Engineer of Water Resources Organisation, PWD, Aliyar Basin Division and the District Revenue Officer of Coimbatore granting permission for extracting water from the Aliyar Basin Division canal to two farmers. The counsel for the petitioner C Prakasam had alleged that there were illegalities in granting permission and those who got permission were pumping out excess water leaving others to suffer without adequate water.



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