Chennai: The Madras high court has rapped the officials of the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Chennai corporation and other departments for not discharging their duties properly.
A division bench comprising Justices Vineet Kothari and Anita Sumanth also orally warned that prosecution proceedings may be launched against the
officials for dereliction of duty.
The bench had on January 8 while passing interim orders on a petition filed by Kokilambal Nagar and Alagappa Nagar Resident’s Welfare Association, directed the managing director of CMWSSB to hold a joint meeting with authorities concerned and prepare an action plan for providing basic amenities to the
residents of Kokilambal Nagar and Alagappa Nagar in Thoraipakkam and produced the same before the court. When the case came up for hearing on Thursday, the special government pleader produced the minutes of the meeting held on January 23, 2019.
After perusing the minutes, the bench in its order said it appears that no other department of the state government nor any representatives of the petitioner association was called for to the said meeting to discuss the joint action plan for execution of the scheme for providing the basic amenities in the extended area of Chennai corporation which was said to have been increased from 174 sq.km to 426 sq.Km in the year 2011 after addition of 42 local bodies under the Chennai municipal corporation.
A perusal of the minutes prima facie indicates that while the work of laying roads in Kokilambal Nagar and Alagappa Nagar was completed on August 31, 2018, but at the same time neither sewage lines nor drainage lines were laid in the said area for which relief the petitioner is before this court in this PIL. The officials present in the court have however submitted that the water supply lines have been laid down in the said areas. This was immediately disputed by Kokilavani, counsel for the petitioner, and submitted that only partial work in this regard was completed and it may be about 50 percent of the total extent and the contract of water supply to GKC Viswa Consortium, Hyderabad on account of non-completion of the contract in time, was terminated by the CMWSSB and the dispute was taken to arbitration where the proceedings were now said to be pending, the bench added.
The bench said as far as under ground sewage scheme was concerned, the minutes of the meeting stated that the estimated cost of the said project was around Rs 200 crore and the detailed project report will be ready by April 2019 and after requisite approvals of the state government, the same may be completed within a period of 36 months after floating
tender and awarding of funds.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the manner in which the joint meeting was held, the bench said when the person concerned for granting requisite approvals for the project and finance, to be made available, the assurance to complete them within the outer time limit of 36 months as envisaged in the said minutes of meeting can still be only far fetched time frame. A comprehensive and holistic view of the matter can be taken only if all the relevant officials of the concerned departments of the government and the local bodies have jointly take part in the said meeting and with their inputs the requisite project reports with DPR and approval, the time frame etc could be recorded for the purpose of the present PIL, the bench added.
The bench said it was not the question only for the particular restricted colony getting its share of the developments projects but the entire area in the extended limits of municipal corporation should be getting such development and which should have been the basis for conducting the joint meeting and therefore essentially the other relevant departments of the state government also were required to be joined in the said meeting. But that apparently does not appear to have happened.
‘We therefore are constrained to again direct the authorities to hold a proper joint meeting of the departments concerned irrespective of the fact whether they were already arraigned as respondent in the PIL or not. Those officials who are considered relevant, proper and necessary to give a proper and comprehensive response in the present PIL may also be called for the said meeting and it shall be held within one month. A comprehensive and holistic view shall be taken by such joint meeting”, the bench added....