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Patna High Court disposes of a PIL seeking restoration of water flow in water canal

The Patna High Court disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed seeking  restoration and resumption of the water flow in the water canal from 29.90 R.D. of Sonbarsa Distributory from village Sabadal to Bhartipur and allow the water flow seamlessly and continuously.  

The prayer made in public interest is said to be for the purpose of irrigation of the fields in the locality. It is also alleged that the soil heaped in connection with a road construction resulted in obstructing the water flow which has left the petitioners, the inhabitants of village Bhartipur and Nehal Bigha high and dry. The Engineer in Chief has granted a no objection letter dated 29.08.2012 for repairing and maintaining the said water canal . The said work was selected in the Financial Year 2011-2012 . In the year 2020 under the ‘Mukhyamantri Gram Sampark Yojna’ with little heed to the continuous flow of water, a road from Kalen to Sabadal was directed to be constructed, which work was granted to the 6th respondent. This road work has caused the obstruction due to the sand being heaped in the water canal. The petitioners have also represented the District Magistrate, Aurangabad and the S.D.O, Sadar .

A counter affidavit has been filed by Respondents in which a different story comes out. It is pointed out that on 24.08.2022, the Sub-Divisional Officer, Aurangabad had directed the deponent and the Executive Engineer, Rural Works Department, Daudnagar to depute an Assistant Engineer to the site of 29.90 R.D. to open the water outlet and resume the irrigation facility to the villagers of Bhartipur. However, at the site, the villagers of Sabadal, Kalen and Kasturipur raised a protest. Apprehending unrest and disturbance of law and order, the water outlet was not opened. 

It is also stated that the irrigation facility is regularly made available from the Sonbarsa Distributory to the farmers of Bhartipur and Sabadal on mutual consent at different outlets. The Bhartipur outlet at R.D. 4.80 could not be constructed due to problems relating to acquisition of land. It is also submitted that the land acquisition proceedings would be resumed, but even now the farmers of Bhartipur village are facilitated irrigation from the Sonbarsa Distributory at   R.D. 31.90 and 35.60 and often disputes arise between villagers which is the cause for disruption of the water flow.

The Executive Engineer, Rural Work Department, Works Division, Daudnagar,  Aurangabad  has filed a counter affidavit dated 04.05.2023 pointing out that prior to filing of the  writ application the petitioner approached the Court by in  2021 for similar reliefs which was disposed of by order dated 03.08.2021 reserving liberty to the petitioners to approach the authority concerned with a representation. 

The petitioners had approached the District Magistrate, Aurangabad with a representation dated 17.08.2021 and a meeting of the prominent people of both the villages was convened on 05.08.2022 and a decision was taken to resume the water flow of water canal 29.90 R.D. The said decision has been communicated by the Circle Officer, Rafiganj to all the concerned authorities. The Sub-Divisional Officer, Aurangabad by an order dated 24.05.2022 has also deputed Magistrates and police personnel to maintain the law-and-order situation . The Executive Engineer, Rural Works Department has also given his consent and his cooperation with the other departments is assured, to ensure free water flow in the canal.

The Respondents through the Executive Engineer, Sone High Level Canal Division, Aurangabad has filed a supplementary counter affidavit wherein it is stated that the construction of Bhartipur Jalwaha has been proposed which would provide seamless irrigation facility to the farmers of Bhartipur village. The administrative approval for construction of the same was sought for and  the approval has been granted.  

Recording the  submissions made in the counter affidavits as an undertaking, the Division Bench of Chief Justice  K. Vinod Chandran and Justice Partha Sarthy disposed of the  petition .

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