Surveys the extent of encroachments that engulfed waterbodies

The High Court-appointed commissioner and retired district judge Solaimalai inspected the condition of various tanks and waterbodies in Kumbakonam for the third day on Saturday.

The Madras High Court, following a complaint from an RTI activist, directed Mr. Solaimalai to ascertain the condition of tanks and waterbodies that were alleged to have vastly shrunk following sustained encroachments. On Saturday, Mr. Solaimalai accompanied by Tahsildar Karthikeyan, Assistant Director (Survey) Rajkumar, Assistant Commissioner-HR and CE Gnanasekaran, Municipal Town Planning Officer Bhaskaran and TANGEDCO Assistant Engineer Singaravelan inspected 16 tanks. He had inspected nine tanks on Thursday and 19 tanks on Friday.

Petitioner-activist Yanai Rajendran had moved the Madras High Court alleging that the authorities did not properly renovate 44 tanks in Kumbakonam, the works of which were taken up ahead of the 2016 Mahamaham. Besides, encroachments were choking the waterbodies and blocked the inlet channels, forcing the waterspread area to shrink, he had stated.

But the Thanjavur district administration had replied that all the works were completed comprehensively. Following which the Madras High Court directed Mr. Solaimalai to make an on-the-spot assessment on the condition of the tanks along with officials and the petitioner and submit a report before February 24.

Mr. Solaimalai noted down the extent of encroachments that had engulfed the waterbodies, inquired whether power service connections were given to houses and whether the encroachments blocked the inlet channels.

Mr. Yanai Rajendran, who accompanied the Judge and the officials during the inspection, expressed the hope that the endeavour must result in something good for the townsmen who enjoyed the rare privilege of living amid a lot of temples and tanks. He also claimed that despite tall claims by the officials, the work on clearing the tanks of encroachments and desilting the waterbodies had not been done properly. The tardy work had facilitated the encroachers, he said.