Madras HC halts barrage construction, seeks PWD reply on compensation
However, the judges pointed out that even before the petitioner approached the court and obtained the above order, the authorities had commenced the construction work and it is continuing till now.
MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered an interim injunction for the construction of a barrage with bridges and head sluices across the Kollidam River in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, and Thanjavur districts. The court also sought an explanation from the Chief Engineer of the Water Resources Department (WRD) of Public Works Department (PWD) as to why the department carried on with the construction works without even completing the land acquisition and paying compensation to the land owners.
A bench of Justices R Suresh Kumar and KK Ramakrishnan passed the interim order on a contempt petition filed by district secretary of Thanjai District Cauvery Farmers Protection Association Sundaravimalanathan, against non-compliance with an order passed by the court in 2021, directing the department to pay compensation to the farmers whose lands were acquired for the above works.
The PWD secretary filed a report stating that in light of the order, they made attempts to negotiate with the land owners but the same ended in failure as the land owners sought compensation on par with the market value. Only after getting administrative sanction, the land acquisition proceedings could be completed, the secretary added.
However, the judges pointed out that even before the petitioner approached the court and obtained the above order, the authorities had commenced the construction work and it is continuing till now. Even if the project may be in the interest of the general public and agriculturists, it cannot be undertaken without acquiring the lands from the land owners, the judges observed.