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Kerala HC Warns PWD and Panchayat Over Water-Logging Issue, Demands urgent Rectification

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Published on: October 16, 2023 at 14:08 IST

The Kerala High Court has issued a stern warning to the Public Works Department (PWD) and the local Panchayat, cautioning them of potential consequences if they fail to promptly address the problem of water-logging at a private property.

This issue has arisen due to the improper construction of a culvert near the affected property by the respective authorities.

Justice Devan Ramachandran, overseeing the case, took notice of the Senior Government Pleader’s statement, indicating that corrective measures were underway in collaboration with the Panchayat to prevent water-logging in the petitioner’s residence. This initiative is necessitated because the culvert constructed and the drain blocked by the authority must be either reconstructed or repaired.

Consequently, the Court instructed the Chief Executive Officer of the State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) to submit a report verifying the presence of water-logging at the petitioner’s property.

The petitioner’s case revolves around the widening of the Punalur Muvattupuzha Road, where her property is located, by the Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP). The petitioner alleges that the KSTP improperly constructed a new culvert near her property, leading to substantial water flow through her premises during the rainy season, resulting in a disastrous situation.

According to the petitioner, she had submitted a complaint under Section 30(2)(iii) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, detailing her hardships to the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). However, no action was taken to address her concerns.

Subsequently, the petitioner sought relief from the High Court, leading to a directive dated June 27, 2022, in which the DDMA was instructed to review her complaint and make a well-reasoned decision. The authority was also granted the liberty to determine whether the issue raised by the petitioner fell within the purview of the Act, 2005.

After considering the petitioner’s complaint, the DDMA directed the Executive Engineer of KSTP to take urgent measures in accordance with Section 30(2)(v) of the Act, 2005, to avert a disaster. The authority also acknowledged that the culvert had been constructed improperly and needed rectification.

The petitioner, however, remained dissatisfied with the lack of action taken by the Chief Engineer of the PWD and the Executive Engineer of KSTP, who are obligated to address the issue.

The plea emphasizes the dire impact on the petitioner’s life and family, rendering their residence virtually uninhabitable. It contends that the failure to comply with the directives of the DDMA has infringed upon the petitioner’s fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

In light of these circumstances, the present plea has been filed, requesting the court to compel the respondent authorities to adhere to the DDMA’s directives.

The case is scheduled for further consideration on November 6, 2023.

Case Title: Syama M. v. State of Kerala & Ors.