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Tribunal on its own motion Suo Motu based on The News item in The New Indian Express, Chennai v/s District Collector, Chengalpattu & Others

    Original Application No. 18 of 2020 (SZ)
    Decided On, 29 January 2020
    At, National Green Tribunal Southern Zone Chennai
    For the Applicant: Suo Motu by Court. For the Respondents: R1 & R4, M. Mani Gopi, R2 & R3, Abdul Saleem, S. Saravanan, Advocates.

Judgment Text

K. Ramakrishnan, Judicial Member

1. The above proceedings have been initiated Suo Motu by this Tribunal on the basis of the News Paper report published in "The New Indian Express", Chennai Edition, dated, 27.01.2020 authored by M/s Madumitha Viswanath under the caption "Urapakkam resident's brave death threats, turn cesspool into lake" 300-odd volunteers pool in close to Rupee 20 Lakh (Twenty Lakh) to revive the portion of this water body. It is alleged in the report that Karannal Puducherry Lake in Urapakkam has become a dumping ground and sewage pond on account of the illegal dumping and discharge of untreated sewage water into the same. Due to the interest taken by some of the residents, some attempt was made to restore the same by undertaking cleaning work by spending more than Rupees 20 Lakhs (Twenty Lakhs) by making public collection and public involvement.

2. It is alleged that it is not being maintained by the authorities in spite of the pathetic condition of the water body which has been brought to their notice. Further, the volunteers who are involved are facing even death threat by some people for proceeding with their selfless work to rejuvenate the water body.

3. The picture also shows the condition of the water body and possible encroachment and dumping of waste. If this condition is allowed to continue it is likely to affect the water body itself and it is likely to vanish with the passage of time. It is also mentioned in the report that there are around 15,000 houses which generate more than 45,000 kilos of solid waste and generating huge quantity of sewage which is being discharged into his water body. Considering the circumstances mentioned in the report we are satisfied that there is substantial question of environment raised and it is necessary to intervene in the matter by this Tribunal.

4. It is a settled law that there is a duty cast on the local body and the State Government to protect environment and also protect water bodies, which play a greater role in protecting the environment and improving the Bio-diversity around that area. It not only acts as a source for drinking water and irrigation but also helps to improve the Bo-diversity of the area including aquatic fauna and birds and further it plays a great role in the ecological sustenance as well. So the State Government as well as the local bodies are duty bound to protect the water bodies from encroachment and maintain the same and if there are any encroachments or it is being contaminated due to dumping of waste and discharge of untreated sewage then it has to be restored to its original position by taking up necessary maintenance.

5. So, in order to ascertain the present status and also action taken by the authorities in protecting this water body, we feel it appropriate to appoint a Joint Committee comprising of District Collector, Chengalpattu District, Secretary, Urapakkam Panchayat and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to go to the allegations in the report and submit a factual and actual taken report. If there are any violations or encroachment and deposition of waste and discharge of untreated effluent contaminating the water amounting to an amount to an offence under section 25 of The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and also as per the provisions of the Solid Waste Management Rules read with Environment Protection Act, then take action against them in accordance with law. The committee should also consider the question of preparing an action plan for restoring of the water body with specific timeline within which the same can be completed to restore and protect the water body from encroachment and contamination and also take appropriate action against those persons who are violating the same including imposition of Environmental Compensations and submit the report to this Tribunal within a period of two months.

6. Mr. Mani Gopi entered appearance for R1 & R4 and Mr. Abdul Saleem and Mr. S. Saravanan entered appearance for R2 & R3 The Registry is di

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rected to communicate this order to the concerned authorities immediately through e-mail so as to enable them to comply with the direction of this Tribunal The District Collector will act as the nodal officer for this purpose and also provide logistic support. The committee is directed to submit the report to this tribunal by e-mail at ngtszfiling@gmail.com before the date mentioned above. 7. For consideration of report post on 01.04.2020.