Original language


Date of text
Type of court
National - higher court
Court name
High Court of Madras
Seat of court
Permits, Wetlands, Burden of Proof, Forests, Constitutional, Inspections, Biodiversity, Contract, Environmental Impact Assessments, Jurisdiction
Free tags
Environment gen.
Land & soil
Elipe Dharma Rao
Sasidharan, K.K.
This public interest litigation is against the re-settlement project at Kannagi Nagar in Okkiam Thoraipakkam off Old Mahabalipuram Road (Rajiv Gandhi Salai). The petitioner sought to restrain the authorities from reclaiming or filling land in the Okkiam Thoraipakkam village and wanted the court to ban construction of any more tenements for slum-dwellers. Infrastructure facilities such as drinking water and drainage were not enough for even existing families, and the area was a marshland as per the 1911 settlement register, she said. Advocate-general, however, said the state had to shift about 50,000 families from various slums in the city, and that the area was not a marsh. Distinguishing the area from the Pallikaranai marshland, he said the PIL had been filed due to mistaken belief and political ill-will. When the PIL was admitted, the earlier bench had appointed an expert committee to go into the issue and furnish a report. The committee felt it was an ecologically sensitive area where no further construction activities should be permitted. Instead, it recommended the entire region could be handed over to the forest department. The judges, rejecting the recommendations and censuring the committee for drifting beyond the terms of reference, said Okkiam-Thoraipakkam did not fall under the prohibited zone and that it was neither a marshland nor backwater area, as claimed by the petitioner. Directing the authorities to provide hygienic and clear living environment in the region, the judges said civic neglect of basic needs would turn the residents towards anti-social activities. “The state is burdened to provide not only mere living rooms but also living conditions to the residents,” the judges observed, adding that the state and its organs should secure the rights and interests of citizens and ensure their life with dignity.