HC asks PHED to take possession of sweet water zone in Puri

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Cuttack, Nov 14 (UNI) In a significant judgment, the Orissa High Court has directed the state Public Health Engineering department(PHED) to take possession of 448 acres of land leased out by Puri Municipality and keep it free from any construction.

Adjudicating a PIL filed by former MLA Uma Ballav Rath, a division bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice A K Ganguly and Justice B Mohapatra, has directed the PHED to take possession of the land within four weeks in the public interest and to ensure that no construction takes place on these plots of land.

The court also directed the PHED to cancel the lease deed made by the Municipality and demolish the construction if any and pay compensation to the lessees as per the law.

The counsel for the petitioner had submitted before the court that the sweet water zone of Balukhanda Mouza in Puri district was reserved for supply of sweet water to Puri town to meet the drinking water requirement of its people as well as thousands of visiting tourists.

But the Puri municipality had allotted the land to various influential persons for construction of residential houses violating all norms and endangering the supply of water to Puri.

The petitioner prayed the Court to order the authorities for a CBI inquiry and cancel the lease.

The petitioner further submitted that the state government had also passed an order in May 1982 to take over the management of water supply system of Puri town by the PHE department to keep the land free, but the order had not yet been implemented.

He stated that the land was under the control and management of the Puri Municipality which allotted it to various influential persons.

The court said the land was earlier given to the Orissa State Housing Corporation for construction of residential premises but the proposal was dropped following objection by the technical committee.

The committee in its report said construction of houses over the land would contaminate the ground water and adversely affect the quality of water.

The bench in its judgment observed that ''this is also equally objectionable for the same reason and'' it is in the public interest to get the said area free from any construction. It is equally in public interest to see that no lease is granted on the said land by the Puri Municipality..'' UNI BD-DP KK PB VC2125

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