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Western Ghats | Madras HC Orders Action Against Private Resorts For Illegally Diverting Flow Of Natural Waterfalls To Attract Tourists

Upasana Sajeev
24 Nov 2022 6:48 AM GMT
Madras HC Directs Collectors To Set Up Committee To Inspect Private Resorts Illegally Diverting Flow Of Natural Waterfall, Calls For Strict Action
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The Madras High Court on Monday directed the District Collectors of Tenkasi, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, Coimbatore and Ooty to form a committee to curtail illegal diversion of the natural flow of waterfalls by the private resorts, who have created artificial waterfalls at their properties.

"We are of the view that the natural waterfalls which emerge after thousands of years of natural wear, tear, erosion and geomorphological changes, cannot be permitted to be cut and diverted by illegal means to the private resorts/estates/properties by the private persons," said the court.

The Madurai bench of Justice R Mahadevan and Justice Sathya Narayana Prasad directed the collectors to form a committee in their districts for inspection of the private resorts or estates in question.

"The said committee shall find out the private resorts/ estates/ properties who illegally diverted the flow of natural waterfalls into their properties and created artificial waterfalls and necessary action be immediately taken to seal those private resorts/estates/properties until further orders," said the court.
It also directed the District Collectors to take departmental action against officers who are found to have colludied with the private resort owners for such diversion.
Apart from that, criminal proceedings shall also be initiated against such private resorts/ estates/ properties' owners. The District Collectors are also directed to initiate departmental action against the officers concerned who colluded with such private resorts/estates/properties' owners for such illegal diversion.
The court passed the directions on a plea by R Vinoth, a resident of Tirunelveli for action against those who have set up illegal artificial private waterfalls and affected the original flow of the water bodies in the fragile western ghats ecosystem.
The petitioner submitted that some individuals who had lands adjacent to the waterfalls had created private or man-made or artificial waterfalls inside their resorts/estates/properties by diverting the natural flow of waterfalls, without getting permission from the appropriate authorities, only for the purpose of making their resorts/estates/properties as tourist attractions, to gain huge profit.
The petitioner submitted that such illegal diversions would cause serious environmental damage and would even push already endangered species into extinction. It was further submitted that though many journalists and social activists have highlighted the issue, no action has been initiated till date.
Directing the authorities to file a detailed action taken report, the court listed the matter for hearing on December 01.
Case Title: Vinoth R v. Additional Chief Secretary to Government and others
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 478



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