The Bombay high court has asked the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit within three weeks declaring its policy on allowing constructions along the banks of rivers, lakes, creeks and tributaries.
The order was given by a bench headed by justices VM Kanade and PD Kode on Friday while admitting a PIL filed by Vanashakti, an NGO, asking for a direction to the state to prohibit construction within 100 metres of flood level of all rivers, lakes, creeks and 50 metres of tributaries.
Irreparable damage is caused to the environment by creating hindrances on the banks of natural resources such as rivers, lakes, creeks and tributaries by constructing walls or barriers by housing projects, the PIL alleged.
Referring to a government notification, the PIL said that as of now there is a ban only on industries from 500 metres to eight kms on either side of rivers. The PIL urged that policy should be changed and this ban should also extend to residential and commercial projects.
The PIL further alleged that a wall running up to two kms had been constructed by a housing project along the banks of river Ulhas, near Dombivali, resulting in changing the course of flood waters of the river. In doing so, many areas have become flood-prone, it said.
The petition said that if such constructions are allowed to continue along the river banks, the lives and properties of the local people would be endangered. Also, there would no check on sewage going from these projects into the river, the PIL alleged.