HC tells officials to present report by next hearing
Observing that protection of lakes “should not be only on paper” – the Telangana High Court on Tuesday instructed Nirmal district Collector and Municipal Commissioner to file a comprehensive report on the status of encroachments of tanks and lakes in their respective jurisdictions.
A bench of justices A. Rajasheker Reddy and T. Vinod Kumar, hearing a PIL plea on encroachments of tanks in Nirmal, instructed the two officials to ensure that the report is presented by next date of hearing without fail.
The bench made it clear to Collector Musharraf Faruqui that there must be a mechanism for continuous monitoring of encroachments of tanks/lakes even after removal of illegal structures.
Initially when the government counsel told the bench that the Collector had logged in virtually to explain to the court about the measures taken for protection of lakes, Justice A. Rajasheker Goud said, “We don’t need presence of officials … we need action.”
After the Collector explained that illegally raised private structures raised on buffer zones of lakes having an estimated commercial value of ₹30 crore were demolished, the judge said: action should not be confined to papers.
“How many lakes were there? How many of them are extinct now? What action was taken to clear illegal occupation of tanks?”, the judge asked the government counsel.
The petitioner’s counsel Chinnolla Naresh Reddy, differing with the Collector’s contentions, stated that fencing of the lakes in Nirmal town was namesake.
Presenting photographs to the bench, he charged that fresh encroachments are on the buffer zone and full tank level lands of the lakes and tanks in Nirmal town.
He told the bench that some persons illegally breached the bund of Ibrahim tank to clear water that drowned their illegal structures built on tank’s buffer zone.
The bench asked the government counsel if the areas coming under buffer zone and full tank level of the lakes were identified and the same information was passed onto the Registration authorities not to permit registration of such lands on names of private persons.
“Warangal was a live example” of what would happen to urban areas if lakes and tanks were not protected, Justice T. Vinod Kumar said recalling how floods devastated and drowned residential areas in Warangal during last year’s rainy season.
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