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Take action against dist officials aiding illegal water extraction: HC
The Madras High Court has directed the Municipal Administration Secretary to hold an enquiry into the illegal extraction of water and transportation, and take action against the erring officials and others involved.
The division bench comprising Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad also directed the official to submit a report about the number of complaints received regarding illegal extraction/transportation of water and action taken by Collectors or other authorities in the State.
Noting that the Tiruvallur administration inspected Pidarithangal village and sealed 132 wells and motors only after the court issued a direction, the bench said from the photographs submitted, it could be deduced that there are many bore wells but only six names were provided. This was a clear indication that there was dereliction of duty in implementing the provisions of the Chennai Metropolitan Area Ground Water (Regulation) Act, 1987, the bench said.
If there were 132 bore wells, it was unimaginable as to how many tanker lorries would be engaged in transportation, said an exasperated bench, pointing out that Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram Collectors have not maintained even a lorries permitted or licensed to transport water
When a crime was reported, the administration should have taken cognisance and ought to have acted. Instead, they indirectly permitted illegal water extraction by remaining as mute spectators, the bench held. Even if Chennai was facing water scarcity, that would not justify the violations of statutory provisions, it said, directing the secretary to take action against officials who failed to implement the provisions. In the case of any collusive act, appropriate action should be taken against the officials and those who aid it.
The bench held that these directions should be applied to all the districts and also sought details regarding the permission/licence granted under the ground water regulation Act, and posted the plea to August 2.