Prepare broad plan to save grazing lands from encroachments, tells HC

The Madras High Court asked the government to come up with a broad plan to evict thousands of encroachers from meikal poromboke (grazing grounds) across the State.
Prepare broad plan to save grazing lands from encroachments, tells HC
Madras High Court. File photo

Chennai

The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu issued the direction while passing interim orders on a public interest litigation that complained of encroachments (79,000) on grazing lands despite a Supreme Court order that they should not be used for residential or industrial purpose.
Pointing out that the demand for more land for industry and buildings would grow in proportion with the population growth but the extent of available land could not be stretched, the bench said, “Unfortunately, long-term plans, the gestation gap involved in such projects and the short tenure of governance of five years combine to produce an alchemy of decisions that may not be best suited. It is time that the long-term prospects of basic survival are given importance.”
Though laws are in place, their implementation was tardy, it said. “Oftentimes, the tardiness may be deliberate and may even be forced because of there being no other alternative,” the bench added.
Stressing that there should be no encroachment of grazing land, the bench said officials should take immediate steps to remove encroachment. “The matter must receive the attention at the highest level,” it insisted.
Seeking the state to present a broad plan of action within five weeks, the bench also noted “As in most other cases, where the short-term benefits result in a rather myopic view being taken, the State is reminded that this, in the long-term, may be an existential or survival issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.”
“The court can only express a pious wish that all encroachers are removed, but there is also a human side to the matter and squatters cannot be thrown out without being provided an alternative. That would result in removing encroachment from one place and creating ground for encroachment in another. It is the problem that the executive has to deal with it having various departments, including the Slum Clearance Board. A possible change in psyche may be needed where it must be explored whether it may be beneficial to build higher than to build wider,” said the bench led by Chief Justice Banerjee.

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