HC pulls up officials for disobeying orders on illegal water extraction

Chennai: The Madras High Court Thursday pulled up revenue officials for disobeying its orders to inspect alleged illegal groundwater tapping in a village in Tiruvallur district.

A bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad asked the Tiruvallur District Revenue Officer and Poonamallee Tahsildar to explain why they have not carried out inspection at Pidiarithangal village. The matter relates to a PIL by PR Sivasankar alleging illegal extraction of drinking water from some private lands in the village.

When it was brought to the notice of the bench that the orders passed by the Court had not reached the officials, the Judges sought to know from the AAG whether the DRO had the habit of reading news papers. It observed that the media has reported the orders passed by the Court on 12 July as well as the one on 17 July.

The AAG then said a decision has been taken to form a Steering Committee to look into the matter. To this, the Judges advised the AAG not to protect the erring officials. The court had on 12 July directed the officials to carry out inspection at the village where water was being drawn and seize the apparatus and vehicles used for extracting it and submit action taken report by 17 July.

However, on Wednesday, the petitioner had submitted in the court that no inspection had taken place in the village. When the matter came up Thursday, the bench said no action has been taken to seize the vehicles involved in unauthorised tapping of water in the district.

“… these officials need to be punished. No action on complaints. Even District collector is not taking action on complaints, we must to take action on him..,” the bench said. When the AAG said the action taken report on the complaints and the action to be taken on violators would be filed, the judges asked “What action on officials? Why cant we take action on clear violation of orders?” “If an action is taken against one Collector, others will follow the orders of the Court,” he said. The bench then orally said it would pass order on non compliance today.