(1.)These civil appeals have been heard together because they involve common questions of law and fact and, therefore, they are being disposed of by this common judgment and order.
(2.)Whereas in Civil Appeal No.8700 of 2013, filed by an Association of Residents of a particular locality, the challenge is to the order of Government of Tamil Nadu bearing G.O. No.122 dated 14.07.1998 containing a scheme for development of a proposed canal by name Madhavaram Left Flank Water Surplus Course, on the ground that the scheme is misconceived and technically flawed which shall lead to unnecessary acquisition of land and building belonging to the residents of the affected area, the other Civil Appeals contain specific challenge to proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as, 'the Act') undertaken by the Tamil Nadu State Government for the purpose of implementation of the said scheme covered by G.O. No.122 relating to the proposed canal improvement works. The actual land acquisition proceedings commenced with issuance of Notification under Section 4(1) of the Act on 02.02.2005, insofar as the lands under dispute are concerned. The Award was made on 30.11.2006 but in the meantime as appears from the facts stated in C.A. No.8700 of 2013, upon a challenge made to the Notification under Section 4(1) of the Act, the High Court stayed dispossession of the concerned land holders by order dated 17.2.2005 but ultimately the writ petitions and other tagged matters were dismissed on 27.4.2007. The matter reached this Court and as a result of an interim order passed by this Court on 18.05.2007 in C.A.No.8701 of 2013 [arising out of S.L.P.(C)No.9492 of 2007] the land holders have remained protected from being dispossessed from their lands in question.
(3.)The various orders passed by this Court in these cases reveal that the matter was taken up in a much wider perspective in the light of larger issues raised in public interest that alternative scheme be also devised and taken into account to prevent unnecessary displacement of large number of residents and with a view to protect likely pollution of some lakes on account of flood waters entering into such lakes and thereby affecting the cleanliness of possible sources for supply of drinking water. This Court, long back on 10.02.2010 felt the need for and hence directed the respondents to submit a revised comprehensive plan of the area showing location of various water bodies, the construction of canal which had already taken place and the natural flow of water from Ambattur tank to Korattur tank and from Korattur tank to Capt. Cotton Canal. On 31.03.2010, learned senior counsel for the State of Tamil Nadu referred to and submitted a final report by Mott MacDonald, an expert appointed by the Government of Tamil Nadu to study the entire scheme and prepare Storm Water Drainage Master Plan for Madras City and Pre-feasibility Study for Madras Metropolitan Area. On going through the relevant portions of that Report, this Court decided to appoint an expert body to study the environmental aspect of the scheme under challenge because the expert appointed by the State Government had suggested further study/monitoring of ground water outside the Chennai Metropolitan area. By order dated 09.04.2010, this Court appointed a Committee of several experts under the Chairmanship of Hon'ble Mr. Justice Doraiswamy Raju, a former Judge of this Court. The terms of reference included eight points and the Committee was requested to submit its report within three months. The Committee's report was made available to this Court, belatedly and for one reason or the other, the matter could not be heard finally for a long period. At the stage of hearing, on 10.07.2014, the State of Tamil Nadu expressed its willingness to explore the possibility of arriving at some consensus. This course was adopted in view of relevant map and materials which showed that as a part of Chennai City Waterways Alignment of Surplus Course Package IV, considerable part of the proposed canal had already been constructed but the balance part remained incomplete only on account of present proceedings against acquisition of lands for the purpose. However, the High Level Committee meeting under Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary of the State involving the petitioners in public interest litigation as well as representatives of the land owners' Association could not prove fruitful.