On finding that barring three districts—Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur—the rest of the State is not governed by any legislation to regulate extraction of groundwater, the Madras High Court has sought the Tamil Nadu government to pass legislations to cover the entire State of Tamil Nadu.
“The state government therefore has to bring out effect legislations to ensure that persons involved in illegal and indiscriminate extraction of ground water are dealt with firm and iron hands,” the bench said.
However, the bench also directed the proper implementation of the Chennai Metropolitan Area Groundwater (Regulation) Act 1987, which governs Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur.
“Even though this Act came into force way back in the year 1987, it has not been implemented at all. We are surprised that registers under Section 4 is not been maintained. Groundwater is being transported without obtaining any license under Section 5. We are also surprised that the tankers and lorries are not registered with the Collector,” the bench led by Justice Manikumar said.
Based on this, the bench directed the Collectors of Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, to maintain a register of the existing wells in the areas and that no vehicle should be permitted to transport groundwater without obtaining a valid license under Section 5 of the Chennai Metropolitan Area Groundwater (Regulation) Act 1987.
The Collector must ensure that the vehicles indulging in illegal transportation must be seized under Section 12A and after confiscation by following the procedure under Section 12 of the Act, the vehicle must vest with the State. Similarly, the pumps etc., will also vest with the State, the bench added.
The bench was passing orders on a batch of plea seeking action against those indulging in illegal extraction of groundwater for sale in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur. The bench had also appointed an advocate commissioner to verify the facts which led to the revelation of gross misuse of groundwater.
A report from the Commissioner of Police A K Viswanathan had also confirmed the same.