The Madras High Court has summoned collectors of 13 of the 32 districts in Tamil Nadu, asking them to appear before it on September 21 for not submitting reports with regard to removal of encroachments in water bodies in the state. A division bench comprising Justices Huluvadi G Ramesh and R M T Teekaa Raman gave the direction on a petition filed by an agriculturists’ body and after examining reports of 19 collectors. It directed the 13 collectors to appear before it with all details on September 21.
The petitioner, ‘Iyarkai Valam Matrum Perumballa Odai Padukappu Nala Sangam,’ referred to alleged encroachments on a rivulet at Kathirampatti village in Erode district, saying it was the only source of irrigation of agricultural land and acted as a carrier in case of floods caused due to a sudden downpour.
Such encroachments would obstruct free water flow and not only create flooding, but also deprive agriculturalists like them dependent on water bodies of their livelihood, they said. They referred to orders of the Supreme Court and the Madras High Court, which had held that the state has to take definite steps to restore water storage tanks, ponds and lakes as disclosed in revenue records, to its original status and that it is imperative that the state maintain such natural resources.
The petitioner referred to the April 12, 2010 Madras High court order in connection with this tank in which the the Tahsildar, Erode taluk, was directed to remove the obstructions and said no steps had been taken to do so. When the matter came up earlier, the bench had directed the 32 collectors to submit reports with regard to removal of encroachments in the water bodies.
Again when the matter was heard on August 30,the bench said it had time and again insisted that district authorities submit reports on removal of encroachments on water bodies, but only 19 of the 32 collectors had done so.
The court said that in spite of directions having been repeatedly issued, only some collectors had filed reports and the others had not come forward to carry out the exercise. “In the above stated circumstances, district collectors in the state who have not submitted their reports are directed to appear before this court on September 21 along with details as regards what are all the steps they have taken to remove encroachments and the progress made so far,” it said.
The bench then posted the matter for further hearing to that date.