"Water bodies must remain water bodies," Supreme Court asks Gujarat govt to reply to plea against rehab of slum dwellers on notified lake

  • Gautam Mishra
  • 05:51 PM, 09 Sep 2021

The Supreme Court has today issued notice in a plea challenging order of the Gujarat High Court dismissing a public interest litigation challenging rehabilitation of slum dwellers on an area notified as a lake.

A divisional bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh asked the state to reply on the matter, observing, "The water bodies must remain water bodies, and something must come before us (showing) that water bodies are being protected."

The plea has been filed challenging the rehabilitation of people whose 1457 hutment dwelling units were demolished by the state with assurance for in-situ rehabilitation.

The land chosen for carrying on the development was a land measuring 48,034 sqmt notified as a lake through a notification dated Jan 10, 2005 by the Department of Narmada and Water Resources.

The PIL filed by Jignesh Maheshbhai Pandya before the High Court sought the water body declared in the notification to be maintained and preserved as a water body, to not be alienated for any other purpose, and to be kept encroachmen-free.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the state of Gujarat, submitted that the state is doing what the court was suggesting. However, the bench while noting that no water bodies shall be used for any project including re-settlement of the slum dwellers, directed Mehta to file a short reply.