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Waterbodies Lifeline For All Animal Species, Ensure Zero Tolerance Towards Their Encroachment: Madras High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
8 Jan 2021 9:13 AM GMT
Waterbodies Lifeline For All Animal Species, Ensure Zero Tolerance Towards Their Encroachment: Madras High Court
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Underlining that "waterbodies are the lifeline for all animal species", the Madras High Court on Tuesday (05th January) observed that there has to be a zero tolerance for any kind of encroachment at or endangerment of any waterbody. The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy observed thus in a matter wherein a plea was filed before it,...

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Underlining that "waterbodies are the lifeline for all animal species", the Madras High Court on Tuesday (05th January) observed that there has to be a zero tolerance for any kind of encroachment at or endangerment of any waterbody.

The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy observed thus in a matter wherein a plea was filed before it, alleging encroachment by local residents in two parts of a waterbody at Ithalar Village in the Nilgiris District.

The State respondents submitted before the Court that it appeared that there may be some encroachment.

To this, the Collector was directed by the Court to file the report when the matter appears next four weeks hence, indicating that the last inch of encroachment has been removed.

In the year 2018, taking serious note of encroachment of water bodies in Chennai, the Madras High Court had issued a slew of directions to the District Collector to ensure that all such encroachments are evicted.

Justice SM Subramaniam had also ordered that the encroachers of water bodies and water resources are not entitled to receive any Flood Relief Fund from the taxpayers' money.

"Citizen must feel free that even if there is large-scale rains, then the State is capable of dealing with such flood-related situations. However, the present situation is not providing any such guarantee or scope on account of large-scale encroachments in water bodies and water resources and other areas wherein the rain waters are preserved", the Court had noted.

It may be noted that the Madras High Court had, last year, observed,

"An Encroachment is an encroachment. Encroachment can never be approved or allowed. Even Deity as a legal person, cannot commit an act of encroachment. If a Deity in a Temple commits an act of encroachment, that is also to be dealt with, in accordance with law and because it is a Deity, the Rule of law cannot be diluted."

Encroachment Of Public Land In The Garb Of A Place For Worship Ought To Be Discouraged, Says Delhi High Court

Notably, the Supreme Court has already held that it is not permissible for the State to alienate common water bodies for industrial activities, under the guise of providing alternatives.

The bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Surya Kant heldwas considering an appeal filed by Jitendra Singh against an order of National Green Tribunal which had dismissed summarily his petition raising grievance against allotment of local ponds to private industrialists, on the basis of an affidavit filed by Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority claiming that it was developing bigger alternative water-bodies.

In related news, considering the seriousness of the issue, the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) had, last month, taken suo-motu cognisance of a news report about pollution of the Amaravati River, and had directed the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), Karur to conduct an inspection of the River and file a report regarding the same.

While suggesting that those who are polluting the water bodies should be termed as 'Goonda' as per the definition in Section 2 of the Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982, the Bench of Justice N. Kirubakaran & Justice B. Pugalendhi had observed,

"Most of the water bodies in India, including perennial rivers, are polluted. The pollution of water bodies is a pollution of the entire land as it affects human beings, animals, birds, plants and thereby, causing an environmental imbalance."

[NOTE: The Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982 is 'The Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug- offenders, Forest - offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic offenders, Sand offenders, Slum- grabbers and Video Pirates Act, 1982']

Also, in a significant observation, the Allahabad High Court on Thursday (07th January) said that Public land in the State of U.P. is most vulnerable to encroachment and such encroachment "over such public land is not countenanced by the legislature."

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