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'With Proper Resolve Citizens Can Be Spared Of Unnecessary Inundation Every Year': Kerala HC Directs Authorities To Periodically Clean Drains

Athira Prasad
4 Aug 2022 1:08 PM GMT
With Proper Resolve Citizens Can Be Spared Of Unnecessary Inundation Every Year: Kerala HC Directs Authorities To Periodically Clean Drains

The Kerala High Court on Thursday issued directions to various competent authorities to clear up the drainage system and canals to prevent inundation of the city. The Court further directed the Cochin Corporation and the Police to ensure that waste is not being dumped in the drains while ordering that if any person found violating these orders shall be dealt with under the full warrant of law.

Justice Devan Ramachandran, while enjoining the Cochin Corporation to keep the drainage system clean by periodically cleaning it and not by an annual exercise alone, observed that with proper resolve, the citizens can be spared of the unnecessary inundation every year.

Though it is little early to call victory, the change that the city has seen today certainly demonstrates that with proper resolve the citizens can be spared of the unnecessary inundation every year. We cannot take the nature granted for any further and we must expect such events will happen for which everyone has to be ready, not at the time of the monsoons but even much earlier.

Pursuant to the orders of this Court, on 1st August, cleaning of the drains and canals began in full swing, and the Court observed that the difference could be seen when the city received almost the same rainfall, but no part of the city has flooded the manner it had on 1st August; however, there have been minor instances. The Court further clarified that with sufficient efforts, it would be possible to evert a flood-like situation in Kochi even if it is on par or below the water level.

Senior Government Pleader, Advocate S. Kannan, submitted that in compliance with the order of this Court, the Mayor of Cochin Corporation, MLAs, officers of the PWD (Roads Division), irrigation department, Police Fire and Rescue, CSML, Electricity Board, Water Authority and other under the stewardship of the District Collector had inspected the problem sites in the city and cleaning work is completed in two days. He further added that the Corporation, PWD, CSML, Irrigation Department and Southern Railways have been instructed by the District Collector to clear the drains in specified areas and that the same is nearing competition. He also added that a committee of all the departments are formed to prepare a formal project to be assessed and approved by the disaster management authorities.

Regarding the rejuvenation of the Mullassery Canal, previously, the Water Authority had taken the stand that more than Rs. 2.54 Crores are additionally required; however, the government has come out with an order, shouldering the responsibility. Therefore, the Court observed that the work of Mullassery Canal must be completed within the specified time.

Standing Counsel for Kerala Water Authority, Advocate V.V. Joshi, submitted that since the Government has shouldered the additional responsibility the tendering process for removing the water pipes from the Mullassery Canal will begin on 6th August and will be completed by the 16th of August.

Regarding the jetting of the culverts under railway lines, Counsel appearing for the Central Government representing Assistant Solicitor General of India Advocate S Krishna submitted that an officer has been nominated for such works. The Court directed that the work of jetting the culverts of railways must begin without much delay.

The matter has been adjourned to 17th August, per the request of the Kerala Water Authority. In the meanwhile, the Court issued direction to the Corporation to ensure on a continuing basis that all the drains are kept clean and the debris removed to designated places without delay.

Since the flow of water from the roads to the drainage is lessened on account of the vegetation growing in between, the Court has directed it to be removed on a war-footing and, if possible, measures to be taken to ensure that such vegetation does not come back. The Court has also directed to submit a report in this regard on the next posting.

The Court further directed the Police and Corporation to ensure that there is no dumping of waste into the drainage systems, and a continuous vigilant watch shall be maintained in this regard. Any person found to be violating these orders shall be dealt with under the full warrant of law, including by initiation of prosecution, Justice Ramachandran further added.

The Court has also directed the competent authorities to ensure that these directions are made known to the citizens through appropriate proceedings so that they will also adjust their behaviour accordingly.

Advocate Janardhana Shenoy, Standing Counsel for the Corporation of Kochi, submitted that night squads have already been constituted to avert the dumping of waste in public places and that stringent action will also be taken.

Case Title: Tresa K.J v. State of Kerala

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 409

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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