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Calcutta High Court imposes cost of Rs 1 lakh on CMC, wants report on waterbodies

Directing that the report be accompanied with a receipt for payment of the amount to the state legal services authority, the court said petitions alleging illegal filling up of numerous waterbodies in the CMC area would be heard again on Dec 19

PTI Published 11.12.23, 05:55 PM
Representational image.

Representational image. File

The Calcutta High Court on Monday imposed a cost of Rs one lakh on the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and directed it to pay the amount before submitting a report on the number of waterbodies within its jurisdiction and action taken on encroachments.

Directing that the report be accompanied with a receipt for payment of the amount to the state legal services authority, the court said petitions alleging illegal filling up of numerous waterbodies in the CMC area would be heard again on December 19.

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A division bench presided by Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam directed that the CMC can submit the report before it on the next hearing date clearly stating the number of waterbodies within its jurisdiction and action taken where there were encroachments or illegal conversion of the waterbodies.

"The report in the form of an affidavit will be accepted by this court subject to payment of Rs one lakh by the CMC to the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority," the bench directed.

Observing that the CMC has not been able to ascertain the number of waterbodies within its jurisdiction, the court said the municipal body was dragging the matter for reasons best known to it.

Noting that truncated reports have been filed in previous occasions, the court said by virtue of an order of November 2022, a report was to be submitted by the CMC, but this has not been done.

The bench, also comprising Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, refused to accept the CMC's contention that action was initiated wherever there was a change of user or encroachment of waterbodies, maintaining that from 2021 onwards, no concrete action has been reported to it by the civic body for evicting encroachers or demolishing the illegal structures.

A visibly annoyed Chief Justice told the CMC counsel, "If your officers think they can keep on hoodwinking everybody, tell them this is the last place they can do that." The CJ said each of them will be prosecuted individually.

The court threatened to ask the CMC to disclose from the year 2020, the names of executive engineers, junior engineers, names of councillors and implead them as parties suo motu and summon them to court.

In his submission, the CMC counsel said process was on to update data of municipal wards from 101 to 141, which had been added to CMC area, and an interim report was being prepared.

The court said it is not stone age and everything should have been digitised.

The bench said CMC is bound to protect the waterbodies.

The CMC counsel submitted that more than 1,000 FIRs have been registered in local police stations.

Holding that mere filing of FIRs do not help, the court said illegal constructions should have been demolished.

Maintaining that two petitions with regard to filling up of waterbodies and illegal construction have been pending since 2014 and 2021, the court observed there is a clear collusion between officials of CMC and encroachers.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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