The Madras High Court has asked the Tamil Nadu government not to prevent protests highlighting the water woes in the state and said it should work with organisations interested in conservation of water bodies to address the situation.
Justice N Anand Venkatesh made the observation on Friday while directing the Chennai Commissioner of Police to permit Arappor Iyakkam, an NGO, to hold a demonstration highlighting the present water crisis in the city and the causes for it on June 30 near Valluvarkottam here.
“The issue that is sought to be projected during protest is a burning issue about which the people must be made aware. The government is making all its efforts to ensure that water is supplied to the nook and corner of the city.
“However, it is important to realise as to why we have reached the present state of affairs as a result of various water bodies that were allowed to be encroached in the past and virtually destroying the ecosystem,” the judge said.
Noting that the issue requires serious consideration, he said awareness must be spread in the state and that the NGO was one of the pioneers in it.
The court also said any government in power should never take these issues as an affront and must make efforts to improve the situation and work with associations that are interested in the conservation of water bodies.
Awareness is the only way through which the situation can be brought under control and therefore, protests of this nature should never be stopped, it observed.
On June 20, the commissioner of police had rejected the NGO’s application seeking permission for the protest on the grounds that another organisation had sought permission on the very same day and that it would unnecessarily cause a law and order problem.
Aggrieved, the petitioner approached the high court.
Challenging the denial order, the NGO submitted that none of these reasons would stand the test of the law. By virtue of being denied to conduct the hunger strike, the fundamental right of the petitioner for speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution was being denied, it said.
Several parts of Tamil Nadu, especially the state capital, have been reeling under severe water shortage since last month owing to poor storage in various reservoirs following deficit rainfall.