On Monday, the Madras High Court heard a writ petition concerning an illegal construction of a Police Station on a land that originally belongs to a water body.
During the hearing, a division of Chief Justice of Madras HC and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy made an important remark that
“Mistakes may not only be committed by private citizens but also by the State and such mistakes are capable of being remedied”
On the previous hearing of the case, the bench had directed to prepare an inspection report containing satellite images to ascertain whether the police station was really constructed on the land of a water body or not.
It was evident from the photographs and maps downloaded from satellite images that the Semmencherry Police Station stood right in the middle of what was a water body until recently. The satellite images also showed a high level of encroachments in the land of the water body.
The petitioner through the writ petition seeked a re-location of the Police Station to resurrect the flow of the water body.
Taking into consideration the serious nature of the issue the court observed in strong words that
“The consequence of the unending invasion of water bodies in the name of development, a decisive step needs to be taken at this stage to define the future course of action and the wanton disrespect for nature.”
The court further remarked that the recent floods of the year 2015 are a reminder that the choking of the network of wetlands around the city has put the city at great risk as the channels for rainwater flowing out may not exist to the extent necessary. In addition, there is a problem of groundwater and the fact that there may not be any perennial source of flowing water in the State and around the State capital.
The court directed the state to form a committee of experts to ascertain how the once-thriving water body at the relevant place in Sozhinganallur may be restored or resurrected. The court also directed to preserve the satellite image to stop further encroachments on the land of the water body.
Lastly, the court indicated that the Police Station may be ordered to stop functioning at that place. The matter will be further considered on 6th September 2021.
Story by Harshwardhan Pawar – Intern