Says COVID-19 has taught a lesson that human species might not be smart enough yet to beat nature
Expressing deep concern over the destruction of nature, the Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the Chief Secretary to file a report within a week on steps being taken by the State government to protect waterbodies, forests and “whatever is left of coastal region and nature so that the future generation find the State habitable and can survive here.”
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu called for the report while passing interim orders on a public interest litigation petition filed by Arappor Iyakkam, a non-governmental organisation, complaining about large scale encroachments on Chitlapakkam lake in Chennai. The State had conceded to have discovered at least 403 encroachments.
During the course of hearing, the judges said, at times, the executive turns a blind eye to rampant encroachments without taking serious endeavour to protect the waterbodies and forests and the case on hand was no different. They also said that some officials deliberately breach principles of natural justice so that the encroachers could approach court and obtain a stay.
Not doubting the need or burgeoning competition to provide housing and shelter, the court said, such need would not permit waterbodies or whatever was left of nature to be destroyed in the name of development without any concern as to whether such development was sustainable or not. It said the 2015 floods in Chennai was primarily because of blocking of water channels.
Though it was not for the court to interfere in executive functions, the State should take appropriate measures to safeguard nature. “At the end of the day, development has to be sustainable,” the judges said and pointed out that the pandemic COVID-19 had taught a lesson that human species might not yet be smart enough to beat nature and it was imperative for humans to co-exist with nature.
The judges also directed the government to clarify whether a garbage dump was functional on the Chitlapakkam lake and whether any incinerator too had been established on the waterbody when the case appears next.
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