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Since 1st March, 1999
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Court seeks squatter report

Jharkhand High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to furnish details and a progress report on the work done to remove encroachments from water bodies.

The court directed a special committee headed by the chief secretary to file an affidavit and inform the bench about the status of work done to clear the Subernarekha, Kharkai and Damodar riverbeds in the state.

A division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice Jaya Roy was hearing a public interest litigation initiated by the court suo motu on encroachments on riverbeds. The court on the basis of a news report published in a local daily had taken cognisance of encroachment in rivers on March 9 last year and directed the state government to take steps to clear the same.

Former MLA Sarayu Roy, who had also intervened in the case had informed the court that Tata Steel had been dumping slag in the Kharkai and Subernarekha rivers, making the riverbed shallow.

The state government informed the court that a meeting of the committee headed by chief secretary S.K. Choudhary took place on September 1 and it was decided that an action plan would be chalked out for conservation of the three rivers. Royís counsel S.N. Pathak, who was also a member of the committee, informed the court that no steps have been taken by the government after the meeting to clean the rivers.

Pathak further said most of the water bodies in the state are choked with water hyacinth, which were destroying the rivers. The State Pollution Control Board and the state government were also aware of the facts, but had done nothing to improve the condition of the rivers in the state, the counsel said.

He added the steel major had been dumping slag unabated due to which 11km of Subernarekha banks had been affected. Continuous dumping had made the riverbeds shallow and narrow. The case will be taken up on January 16.

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