Ensure zero tolerance towards encroachment of water bodies, Madras HC tells Govt. officials

A government counsel, on instructions, conceded that there were indeed encroachments on the swamp and sought six weeks’ time to remove them

The Madras High Court on Tuesday said the government officials must have zero tolerance towards encroachment of waterbodies and ensure that every inch of such encroachment gets removed at the earliest by following the due process of law.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy made the observation while hearing a public interest litigation petition which sought for removal of encroachments from a two-acre swamp at Arehalla in Ithalar, a village in Nilgiri hills.

A government counsel, on instructions, conceded that there were indeed encroachments on the swamp and sought six weeks’ time to remove them. The judges accepted her request and ordered that a compliance report should be filed in court.

In his affidavit, K. Ramesh Kumar, the petitioner said Ithalar had about 150 houses. The residents were basically an agricultural community and a majority of them were small tea growers dependant on natural streams for water supply.

After repeated representation to the government authorities, the swamp was identified for fulfilling the water needs of the residents by erecting a well and a pump house. However, now some of the adjacent land owners had encroached upon the swamp, he complained.

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