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‘Even if you build Taj Mahal on waterbody, we’ll raze it’
Observing that both the Railways and the National Highways, with no regard for water bodies, end up obliterating them by putting up constructions, the Madras High Court on Wednesday warned of pulling down such constructions even if it happens to be a Taj Mahal or guest house.
The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy was passing interim orders on a plea pertaining to the construction of a subway by the Railways. While the petitioner had complained that one or more water bodies have been destroyed in undertaking the construction, the Railways submitted that the construction is almost complete and the subway is ready for use.
However, the bench on thwarting the attempt of the Railways to take refuge in an order passed on February 2, 2021, disposing of a similar matter while asking the Railways to deal with in accordance with the law, said: “While it is important that highways must be built and deeper access by using the railways is also welcome, the authorities ought to avoid making any construction on any waterbody.”“If it is completely unavoidable, pillars or the like may be constructed so that the larger part of the waterbody is left undisturbed and nature thereof not irreversibly altered,” the court stressed.
Also, pointing out that there have been other reports of police stations in some places being constructed on what used to be waterbodies, Chief Justice Banerjee said: “The consistent refrain of this Court has been that waterbodies ought to be preserved to allow humans and other life forms to survive and a zero-tolerance policy has to be adopted when it comes to disturbing or desecrating any waterbody any further.”“Many major water bodies all over the State and particularly in the urban areas have altogether disappeared. Even the reason for the devastating flood in 2015 was reported to be as a result of the flowing channels being impeded by arbitrary construction in this city,” the bench held while seeking a counter affidavit in this regard by the State and Railways within three weeks.