Madurai: Observing that the state was duty
bound to protect water bodies, the Madras High Court bench
here on Tuesday directed National Highways Authority of India to
build a bridge across a tank in Kanyakumari district instead
of filling it with mud for a road project.
Allowing a PIL by voluntary organisations opposing the
NHAI`s proposal to fill the Narikulam Tank with mud to a
length of 530 metres for the 4/6 lane road, a division bench
observed that over 1,000 tanks in the district had been
obliterated over a period of 40 years.
"In public interest it is the bounden duty of the state
to ensure that no further damage is caused to any major tanks
such as the Narikulam Tank," the bench said.
The bench comprising Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla and
Justice K B K Vasuki said the NHAI project to lay the road
across Narikulam Tank by filling it up to an extent of 530
metres would disturb aquifers and therefore could not be
It would also affect the natural drainage pattern of the
surrounding areas which fed the Narikulam Tank. "We are
convinced the laying of the road by filling up the tank would
result in and cause irreversible damage to the tank."
Quoting from details placed before them, the judges said
between 1962 and 1998, the number of tanks that existed in the
district had come down from 3,500 to 2447 tanks.
The petitioners including, Kanyakumari District Bhoomi
Padukappu Sanga Federation, Conservation of Nature Trust and
Regulator Channel Water Users` Association, submitted water
from the tank was used for drinking purpose in ten villages
and also for irrigation of 240 acres.
The tank was built for the benefit of the local people by
the erstwhile Tranvancore samasthanam. It also prevented
percolation of saline water. Hence, the NHAI should not be
allowed to construct the road filling mud over the tank, they
The court said there was no need for an alternative route
and the NHAI could construct a bridge to the length of 530
metres across the tank.