The Kerala High Court on Thursday observed that with proper resolve and regular upkeep of public roads, drains and canals, the effect of relentless rains that hit the State during the monsoon season can be better managed [Treasa KJ v State of Kerala].
Justice Devan Ramachandran opined that even though the flooding of city roads has been controlled well since an orange rainfall alert was issued in the Ernakulam district on August 1, nature cannot be taken for granted anymore.
"Though it is too early to call victory, the change that the city has seen today certainly demonstrates that, with proper resolve, citizens can be spared of inundation every year. We cannot take the nature for granted any further and we must expect that such events will happen, for which everyone has to be ready, not at the time of monsoons alone, but even much earlier," the Court observed in its order.
The Court attributed the successful control of flooding this year to the quick action taken by the authorities in conjunction with the orders of the court, but cautioned that the efforts will have to be kept up throughout the year, not just during monsoon.
"Though the canals were kept ready this year, the drainage system appears to have been clogged and its opening up in the last two days have worked miracles. Irrefragably, therefore, the Corporation is now enjoined to keep the drainage system clean on a periodical basis, and not through an annual exercise alone," the Court said.
The Court also directed authorities to take strict action against citizens who are found dumping waste illegally or carelessly.
The Court was considering a petition that was filed in the year 2018 regarding the blockage of the Perandoor canal within the Cochin Corporation resulting in inundation of roads.
Over the years, the Court had passed various orders in the case to control the management of the drains of flood mitigating systems of the city on a regular basis.
Considering the relentless rain that Kerala has witnessed this past week and the heavy rainfall alert that was issued for several districts, the Court took up the case twice this week, on an emergent basis.
It then issued many directions to the Cochin Corporation, Police, Cochin Smart Mission Ltd, and Ernakulam District Collector to ensure clean drainage and bar on dumping of waste, etc.
Pertinently, this time around, the Court stressed on the fact that these directions are not to be implemented as a one time measure or only during the monsoon, but as a continuous process throughout the year.
During the hearing on Thursday, the amicus curiae, advocate Sunil Jacob, pointed out that a video that has been circulating throughout social media showing a lorry depositing septic waste into roads while in motion, by keeping its valves open.
He added that the problem of dumping of waste in Kochi city has gained epic proportions and that if this is not controlled, epidemics could break out.
The Court said that it is aware that citizens sometimes do such acts under the impression that they will not be apprehended and directed the authorities to take cognisance of the incident and take necessary action.
"In future the collection of waste from various parts of the city will have to be ramped by the Corporation and any person found dumping it illegally or carelessly, taken to task. This Court is aware that citizens sometimes do this under the impression that they will not be apprehended, but they have to be aware that their one action puts the entire citizenry to peril, should diseases and epidemics arise out of it, which is not merely a probability but a certain possibility, if things proceed the way it is presently going," the order stated.