New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has directed the city government to ensure that no water body is encroached or allotted to any private person, saying these bodies help in improving the environment and the authorities are duty bound to protect them.
Accepting a PIL filed by a Residents Welfare Association (RWA), the bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Manmohan directed the revenue department of Delhi government to take back such water bodies, if they were allotted to individuals in past, after giving them alternative land.
"In our opinion, water bodies, johads, lakes, water tanks are not only community assets, but also help in preserving and improving the environment. Article 48-A of the Constitution stipulates that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment," it said.
The court rejected the government`s stand that some water bodies, belonging to the gaon sabha, had been allotted to persons following the orders of the Financial Commissioner under the provisions of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act to make good the deficiencies in allotment of land during consolidation proceedings.
"All deputy commissioners are directed to ensure that none of the water bodies, johads, water tanks, lakes, water ponds are encroached or allotted in future to make good the deficiency of land during consolidation proceedings," the bench said.
"If any water bodies... Have been allotted in the past to a villager during consolidation proceedings and no permanent structure has been constructed thereon, the deputy commissioners are directed to ensure that possession of the said bodies is taken back after giving them alternative land. Deputy commissioners are also directed to ensure that water bodies, johads, water tanks, lakes, water ponds are maintained, developed as well as kept clean and if necessary, the same be revived," it said.
The court was hearing the PIL, filed by the RWA of Ekta Enclave, seeking directions to the government to take action against encroachers of johads, ponds, lakes and water bodies in villages here.