National Green Tribunal takes Suo Motu cognizance of encroachment at Chitlapakkam lake in South Chennai

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) took Suo Motu cognizance of the the Chitlapakkam lake in south Chennai has a water spread of about 53 acres which is now only 47 acres and six acres have been taken over by the encroachers who have built houses on the western side of the lake.

The Petition is registered suo-moto on the basis of the news item appearing in the daily newspaper dated 11.01.2024.

The news item  discloses that inspite of the order of the Madras High Court, many of the encroachers have been left untouched and out of 403 identified encroachments, authorities have removed only 74 till date. 

It further discloses that instead of complying with the order of the Court fully and removing all encroachments, WRD is carrying out restoration work at a cost of 25 crore on the available area, thereby legalizing the encroachments.   

The news item raises substantial issue relating to compliance of environmental norms.  

“Power of the Tribunal to take up the matter in suo-motu exercise of power has been recognized by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of “Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai vs. Ankita Sinha & Ors.” reported in 2021 SCC Online SC 897.”

Hence, the Principal Bench of Justice Prakash Shrivastava , Dr. A Senthil Vel and Dr. Afroz Ahmad impleaded the following as respondents in the matter:

i. Water Resource Department, Tamil Nadu, through its Chief Engineer and Director.

ii. Tamil Nadu State Pollution Control Board through its Member Secretary. 

iii. District Collector/District Magistrate, Kanchipuram. 

iv. State Wetland Authority through the Member Secretary.  

Since the matter relates to the Southern Zone Bench, Chennai, therefore , the Bench transferred the matter to the Southern Zone Bench for appropriate further action. Office is directed by the NGT to transfer the original record to the Southern Zone Bench and the matter is listed on 15.04.2024.

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