Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The High Court judgement asking Government of Odisha to formulate a law to protect Water


BHUBANESWAR: The Supreme Court has already given a historic judgement in March 2011 directing all state governments for freeing water bodies from encroachment. Odisha must take immediate measures to revive and bring to life all common water bodies of the state.

WIO has been asking the state government to formulate a Policy on Water Bodies. The Government must immediately come out with such a policy taking participation of all sections of people.

We welcome the High Court judgement asking Government of Odisha to formulate a law to protect Water Bodies

Sambalpur, 12th October 2012 – As we come to know from media reports, the Honourable High Court of Odisha have directed the govt. of Odisha to formulate a law to protect water bodies of the state within two years. WIO welcomes this judgement and thanks the Honourable Court for this.

On January 28, 2011 the honorable Supreme Court of India, in a historic judgement, had directed all the State Governments of the country to prepare schemes for eviction of illegal/unauthorized occupants of Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat/ Poramboke/ Shamlat land saying these must be restored to the Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat for the common use of villagers of the village. WIO had then urged upon the Govt. of Odisha to see to the issues raised by this judgment and take appropriate action to free all water bodies of the state from all sorts of encroachments and ensure their protection and revival from the destructive forces including pollution from industries and urbanization.

As of now we don’t know what steps the state government has taken in that regard. What we can see from ground realities is that more and more water bodies are being encroached by the rich and powerful both in urban and rural areas. Now, after the High Court judgement, the government must immediately step into action and free all water bodies of the state from encroachment.

Surface water bodies play a major role in retaining rain water and recharging the local ecology. They are also a major livelihood support system for many poor farmers and communities depending on fishery. WIO therefore urges upon the government to immediately declare a Plan of Action to free all water bodies of state from all forms of encroachment.

Freeing water bodies from encroachments would also lead to some discontent among local people and some people might have to be displaced. The government must sensitively look into such issues and where it involves displacement of poor people the government should talk to them in a cohesive manner and provide appropriate rehabilitation.

However, where the water bodies are encroached by the rich and powerful such as estate developments and private builders they should be heavily fined and directed to restore the water bodies with their own funds. Odisha is already a water stressed state and we can no more neglect water bodies, WIO urges.

WIO has been urging upon the state government to formulate a Policy on Water Bodies. Time the government starts discussing with people and experts on this and builds a strong Policy to protect, preserve and rejuvenate all water bodies of the state. The state must ensure that not a single water body dies of encroachment, industrialization, pollution and urbanisation, WIO demands.

For further information, please contact:
Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha
Cell: +91-9437050103/9937561700

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