The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the Secretary of the Cochin Corporation to initiate strict action against those dumping garbage into canals and drains, aggravating the flooding of roads and causing blockage of drains in the State.
Justice Devan Ramachandran began the interim order with an observation that as much as the Court did not desire to control the management of the drains or the flood mitigating systems in the city regularly, it was forced to do so because of the large scale inundation witnessed due to the rains.
"As far as cleaning of canals and prevention of dumping waste and plastic into it is concerned, the Secretary of the Corporation is put on notice by the court that every necessary and effective measure shall be initiated and ensured on a war footing from this moment onwards. Persons who violate the directions of the Corporation, as mandated by law, against the deposit of garbage into the canals shall be taken to task under the fullest warrant of law, to make it deterrent against others, who may be under the wrong impression that such activities will be tolerated."
The Court further observed that steps like fencing the canals would be of no effect unless the citizens understand that it is their duty to ensure that such facilities are maintained well and kept free of debris. Therefore, the Corporation was directed to give necessary advertisements and publicity to such imperatives through all methods as available in the interest of all stakeholders.
The developments ensued in a petition filed in 2018 regarding the blockage of a canal within the Cochin Corporation. The seriousness of the issue was projected to the public domain in the year 2018 when the city witnessed never-before-seen flooding. Since then, the Court had passed over 20 orders to mitigate the situation which bore fruit in 2020 and 2021 when the city was spared of large scale flooding.
The Judge noted that parallelly, "Operation Breakthrough" was implemented to clear up the extensive canal network that lay across the city. However, the third phase of the operation could not be completed due to various circumstances which have been chronicled in the earlier orders.
Considering the relentless rain that Kerala has witnessed this past week and the resultant flooding, the Court took up the case today, on an emergent basis.
It then directed the head of the Operation Breakthrough team to file reports along with statements enumerating the steps taken, and to be taken with respect to the flooding situation that residents of Cochin witnessed earlier today.
"The reports shall be comprehensive, so that the court can issue orders to ensure that such events are as far as it is practically possible, averted during this monsoon season, which is at our doorstep already."
Case Title: Treasa K.J & Anr. v State of Kerala & Ors.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 231