The Madras High Court on Tuesday granted two more weeks’ time to the City Police Commissioner to submit details regarding the number of water tankers that enter Corporation limits every day, and the number of deaths and injuries caused to motorists due to such tanker lorries in the last 10 years.
A Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and P. Velmurugan also wanted to know whether all water tanker lorries were driven by expert drivers, because most often, the media reported that road accidents occured due to the inability of drivers to control the speed of the vehicles loaded with water.
The Bench had raised the queries on July 27 last year while hearing a writ petition filed by a residents’ welfare association of Konambedu village in Avadi Taluk, Tiruvallur district. The association was aggrieved over the exploitation of water from Thattankulam, a waterbody in their locality, by the “illegal tanker lorry mafia”.
During the course of the arguments on that case, the petitioner’s counsel, M. Purushothaman, referred to a news report that had appeared in The Hindu regarding a road accident, in which a mother-son duo died after a water tanker knocked them down from their motorcycle, on Anna Salai in Chennai, on July 24, 2018.
Taking serious note of it, the judges expanded the scope of the writ petition and posed a series of nine questions to the police. They wanted to know whether the speed limit of the water tanker lorries could be controlled through appropriate regulations and whether it was true that bodies of several tankers were modified and enlarged beyond the loading bearing capacity of the chassis.
In so far as the petitioner association’s grievance, regarding the removal of encroachments from the waterbody was concerned, the judges directed the Avadi Municipal Commissioner to consider a representation made by it. But alleging that the direction was not complied with, the association moved a contempt of court petition on Tuesday. When the contempt plea was listed for admission, the judges found that the Police Commissioner was yet to answer the queries and ordered notice to the Avadi Municipal Commissioner, in so far as the petitioner’s grievance regarding non-removal of encroachments was concerned.