"State should take proper steps to prevent disasters:" Kerala High Court initiates Suo moto PIL to monitor flood relief activities

The Kerala High Court said the state government has to “take proper and prompt action” to prevent disasters during monsoons and otherwise.
Kerala HC, Kerala Floods
Kerala HC, Kerala Floods

The Kerala High Court initiated a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to effectively monitor and direct the Governments to take proper steps for providing appropriate mechanisms for managing the emergency situations during the monsoon season, and otherwise, under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

A division bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly ordered the state government to take proper and prompt action during monsoons noting that the relentless rain has caused severe loss to the lives and properties of people.

"Torrential rains in the state of Kerala cause disaster in many places due to landslides, denudation of water. There are damages to the property of people residing in Pembroke lands, colonies, hill slopes, isolated locations, plantation areas, and others. The State of Kerala has to take proper and prompt action for prevention of disasters. There are instances of flooding in some areas as well", the Court observed.

The Court, therefore, directed the Registry to register a suo motu petition to keep an eye on the efforts made by the state government to deal with such situations.

"In the above circumstances, taking note of the mandate under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, duties enjoined on the State/court, to effectively monitor and direct the Governments to take proper steps for providing appropriate mechanisms for managing the emergency situations during the monsoon season and otherwise under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. We are of the view that a suo motu writ petition should be registered to hear the Government and any other interested parties/aggrieved and issue appropriate directions," the order stated.

The Court was considering a petition seeking orders to the Government to set up a high level technical committee to ensure dam safety, consisiting of 3 or 4 eminent engineers with atleast the Chairman and one more member from outside the State

Advocate Subash Chand, representing the State Dam Safety Authority constituted by the State Government and extended till the promulgation of the Dam Safety Act, 2021, submitted that there is no Dam Safety Authority in the State as of now.

It was further submitted that as regards the constitution of the authority at the national level, the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.

Senior Government Pleader P Narayanan informed the Court that a committee was constituted in June last year and meets once in 10 days from June to December, and more frequently in case orange or red alerts are issued in districts with dams.

It was further submitted that there is an efficient mechanism in place for the management of the reservoir outflow in the State during extreme rain falls and otherwise.

However, the Court opined that the matter requires monitoring and decided to initiate a suo motu case, arraying the State Government and the heads of the Power Department, the Water Resources Department, the Disiter Management Authority and the Kerala State Electricity Board.

[Read Order]

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