If no specific funding was forthcoming from either the central or State governments before November 25, the secretaries concerned at both State and Centre would be summoned to bring such a commitment on record of the court, warned a division bench comprising Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice MS Ramesh.
It also set aside the submission of the counsels blaming the pandemic for failing to come up with a holistic plan for the upkeep of Mahabalipuram. “We now feel that the COVID pandemic period has also somewhat relaxed now and it can no longer be a reason for not taking suitable decisions in this regard,” it said.
Leading the bench, Justice Kothari also pointed out that it would no longer resort to ‘please do it process’, be it either obtaining ‘Blue Flag Certification – an international eco-level tag for Marina beach – or the upkeep of the ‘beautiful tourist and historical town’ of Mahabalipuram. Instead, it would start issuing directions, he said, citing various orders that have already been passed directing both the Centre and State government to give the commitment of funding for the development and upkeep of Mahabalipuram.
The bench issued the direction on a suo motu plea taken by it based on a reference made by Justice N Kirubakaran that Mahabalipuram, which had received much attention during the summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chinese premier Xi Jinping, has now been ignored. The reference also pointed out that government authorities failed to maintain the area and also several hotels situated in that tourist site have not discharged their responsibility properly to maintain a neat and clean atmosphere of the tourist town.
In its order, the bench also recorded the submission of counsel Sunita Kumari appearing for the Centre that a 400-page report has been prepared as part of the Swadesh Darshan Scheme for the development of 16 heritage spots all over the country, including Mahabalipuram.