27 May 2023 9:30 AM GMT
While ordering the shifting of a burial ground from a land situated close to a water body to another land, the Madras High Court highlighted that though public resistance is common in such cases, the revenue officials should try to control the situation and ensure that the water body is not polluted. In the considered view of this Court, the revenue officials must keep in mind...
While ordering the shifting of a burial ground from a land situated close to a water body to another land, the Madras High Court highlighted that though public resistance is common in such cases, the revenue officials should try to control the situation and ensure that the water body is not polluted.
In the considered view of this Court, the revenue officials must keep in mind that whenever there is a proposal for shifting a burial ground, there is a bound to be public resistance from the local people. Just because the local people are resisting for shifting a burial ground, that does not mean that the revenue officials will not control the situation and ensure that the water stream does not get polluted., the court said.
Justice Anand Venkatesh added that the State must look at the larger picture and maintenance of water stream must get an upper hand over hardships caused by shifting of the burial ground.
The State and its instrumentalities must keep in mind that they must always look at the larger picture and as between maintaining a water stream and hardship caused due to the shifting of the burial ground, the former must get an upper hand since it has long term implications. If the water stream is not protected and it is permitted to get polluted, the future generation will completely loose the water body and it will cause more destruction to the environment.
The court was dealing with a plea filed by Parvathi Sunitha Kumaran, challenging the order of the Salem District Collector withdrawing an earlier decision to shift the burial ground. The main contention of the petitioner was that the present burial ground was very close to a river stream and would thus contaminate the water body.
The court noted that the Tahsildar, in a report submitted to the Block Development officer had stated that there was resistance from the public to shift the burial ground. The court further observed that this report was taken note of by the District Collector, who then gave up the earlier proposal to shift the burial ground.
To ascertain the facts of the case, the court appointed an Advocate Commissioner who in his report submitted that the land being used as a burial ground was just 1-40 meters from the stream. With respect to the proposed land for shifting, he submitted that the land was half kilometer away from the road and 2-3 kilometers away from the present burial ground.
Based on the report of the Advocate Commissioner, the court was satisfied that the continuation of burial ground in present location will pollute the water stream which was being used by the villagers. The court added that Rule 7 of the Tamil Nadu Village Panchayats (provision of burial and burning grounds) Rules, 1999 makes it clear that burial/burning of corpse should not take place within 90 meters of a dwelling place or a source of drinking water supply.
Thus, the court was satisfied that presently, there was a clear violation of the rules which could not be allowed to continue just because there was resistance from the local public. The court added that the District Collector should have considered the environmental impact before giving up the proposal.
It is quite unfortunate that the District Collector acted upon the subsequent report of the Tahsildar without any application of mind and without taking into consideration the environmental impact and also the violation that was taking place while burning/burying the corpse just adjacent to the water stream.
The court thus directed the District Collector to take steps to shift the burial ground at the earliest and not later than three months from the date of the order.
Case Title: Parvathi Sunitha Kumaran v. The District Collector and others
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 150
Counsel for the Petitioner: Mrs.A.Arulmozhi
Counsel for the Respondent: Mrs.S.Mythreye Chandru Special Government Pleader
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