CHENNAI: Officials of the Public Works Department (PWD), known for maintenance of water bodies and regular camp inspections, are now spending more time with the court proceedings, thanks to the depleting water bodies and the relief petitions filed by those evicted by the State Revenue Department.
They’re at the receiving end of public outrage after undertaking actions against encroachment near water bodies. While it’s the responsibility of the department to clear encroachments near water bodies, they also aid in the rehabilitation and relocation of people who used to live in these encroached areas.
However, individuals owning commercial spaces in such places are now demanding the same services, stating that their livelihood has been affected, dragging the PWD officials to court. They’re caught between the State policies that allow the Government buildings to come up on water catchment areas and the High Court that demands rehabilitation for the encroachers on humane grounds.
As per the government policies, there is no provision to provide rehabilitation support to commercial space owners, but officials have to now answer the judiciary because of litigations. “Several owners have filed a case against the department demanding rehabilitation, consuming our time,” fumed PWD insiders.
Though the Court had earlier stated that the PWD need not provide any assistance to the public for rehabilitation, these cases are forcing officials to spend precious time in court.
— Swedha Radhakrishnan, Chennai