Kerala HC allows PIL seeking removal of encroachments on Uttarapalliyar river and demarcation of river boundaries

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench comprising of CJ Hrishikesh Roy and A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar, J. directed the State government to decide on a representation relating to encroachment on Uttarapalliyar river.

Petitioner is a registered association of residents of the watershed area of the Uttarapalliyar river in the Alappuzha district. Their averment was that the said river was being subjected to large-scale encroachment resulting in considerable narrowing of the river. As a result, people who were dependent on it for their cultivation and other needs were adversely affected.

Learned counsel for the petitioner Ms Surya Binoy submitted that Uttarapalliyar river emanates from Achankovil in Venmani village and meanders across Ala, Cheriyanadu, Puliyoor, Ennaykkadu villages to join the Pampa river in the Budhanur village. However, revenue records indicated that the river route had not been accurately surveyed which resulted in unauthorized encroachment on river banks at several places.

It was stated that the petitioner had made a representation to the Secretary, Department of Revenue, Government of Kerala for proper survey and demarcation of river boundaries and also to carry out dredging activities to restore the river to its pristine glory. The request was also made to evict the encroachers by invoking provisions of the Kerala Land Conservancy Act, 1957. Since the said representation had not been heeded so far, the petitioners approached this court by filing the present Public Interest Litigation.

Learned senior government pleader Mr Aravindakumar Babu submitted that the court may issue direction for disposal of petitioner’s representation by the competent authority.

In view of the above, the Court directed the respondent to consider the petitioner’s representation by affording him and other stakeholders a hearing in the matter. A speaking order, addressing the grievances raised in the representation, was directed to be passed within four months of receipt of a copy of this judgment.[Rural Development and Cultural Society v. State of Kerala,2018 SCC OnLine Ker 5275, decided on 11-12-2018]

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