A division bench of the Lucknow Bench responded to a public interest litigation seeking appropriate steps to protect the villagers residing on the banks of the Rapti river.
ON May 24, the Allahabad High Court ordered the District Magistrate of Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh to chalk out a plan for the upcoming monsoon to ensure the safety of the public and its property in the case of floods, while also dismissing the measures said to have been taken by the district administration to deal with the exigency of floods as “grossly inadequate”.
This order was passed by a division bench of Justices Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Subhash Vidyarthi of the Lucknow Bench of the high court in response to a public interest litigation filed by one Iqbal Ahmed.
The petitioner, represented by advocate Mohd. Kumail Haider, had filed the petition to request that appropriate steps be taken to protect the villagers residing on the banks of the Rapti river in Balrampur district from floods, which occur almost every year. The petitioner had also pleaded for compensation to be ordered to be paid to those families that may suffer losses on account of floods.
In response, the counsel for the state of Uttar Pradesh had put on record at the court certain instructions from the Sub Division Officer, Utraula, Balrampur district regarding the measures taken to deal with the contingency of floods, as contained in a letter dated April 27. However, the court did not seem impressed with these measures, describing them as “appear[ing] to be grossly inadequate”.
It directed the District Magistrate to convene a meeting of all relevant and responsible officers to chalk out a plan which may be implemented in the coming monsoon season to protect people, their property as well as their animals in case of any flooding. It further directed that this plan be prepared within 15 days of the order.
Taking serious view of the matter, the court listed the next date of hearing as July 14, and instructed that by that date, the counsel for the state government must file an affidavit sworn by the District Magistrate detailing the steps taken in the intervening period for ensuring compliance of this order, and “for taking any other measures to check the destruction being regularly caused” by floods in the Rapti. It also agreed to the petitioner’s request to implead the Additional Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary, Irrigation Department, Uttar Pradesh government, and the Executive Engineers of the Flood Division and Irrigation respectively in Balrampur as respondents in the matter.
Click here to view the Allahabad High Court’s order.