A person who encroaches on a waterbody is a traitor of the nation, the Madras high court has said, adding that it will not hesitate to use even military to remove encroachments. “They (encroachers) must not be provided with alternate accommodations at the cost of the exchequer, as it would amount to perpetrating an illegality by the government,” a division bench of Justice S Vaidyanathan and Justice K Rajasekar said on Tuesday.

“We make it very clear that if encroachments on waterbodies are not removed, this court will be constrained to pass appropriate orders to use military force to remove such encroachments,” the bench said. The court made the observations on a contempt plea moved against the Tamil Nadu government for failing to implement a court order and remove encroachers from the Pallikaranai marshland. When the plea came up for hearing on Tuesday, the state filed a report dated September 12 prepared by the member-secretary of the Tamil Nadu State Wetland Authority.

The court was informed that the government had sanctioned 5 crore through Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to evict 1,087 families from Pallikaranai marshland and they are being accommodated in alternate tenements provided by Tamil Nadu Urban Development Board (TNUDB). So far, allotment orders have been issued for 149 households, the report said.

Recording the submissions, the bench said: “It is really a sad state of affairs that in Tamil Nadu, instead of buying land, any person can encroach upon a land and the government is willing to give an alternative site.”

“If this is going to be allowed, then the taxpayers’ money will be wasted. The government should not provide alternate accommodations to any encroacher, particularly to those who occupy waterbodies. It would amount to perpetrating illegality by the state,” the court added.