A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan, in an order earlier this week, asked the police to take back water bodies, if allotted, to the villagers during consolidation proceedings where no permanent structure had been constructed.
"In our opinion, water bodies/johads/lakes/water tanks are not only community assets, but also help in preserving and improving the environment," the bench observed.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by the resident's welfare association of Ekta Vihar seeking strong action against encroachers of lakes, ponds and water bodies.
Disposing of the plea, the court said: "All deputy Commissioners are directed to ensure that none of the water bodies... are encroached or allotted in future to make good the deficiency of land during consolidation proceedings."
"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".
The bench further asked the deputy commissioners to ensure that water bodies are "maintained, developed as well as kept clean and if necessary, the same be revived".
In its reply to the court, police has said water bodies belonging to the Gaon Sabha had been allotted to persons in accordance with the orders of the Financial Commissioner under section 42 of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, 1948 to make good the deficiencies in allotment of land during consolidation proceedings.
The court, however, said that as per Aug 19, 1997 order passed by the Financial Commissioner and they are of the opinion that order does not stipulate that water bodies are to be allotted to villagers who have been allotted land less than their entitlement during consolidation proceedings.
The police also assured the court that it will take action to evict the allottees of the water bodies.
--IANS (Posted on 02-11-2013)