PIL filed against circular for poojas to invoke rain God

Madurai: A PIL has been filed in the Madras High Court bench here seeking punitive action against a Tamil Nadu government irrigation official for allegedly ordering special poojas to propitiate rain God for copious inflows into Mettur Dam, the lifeline of Cauvery delta farmers.

Petitioner N Ilango, an advocate, submitted before a bench comprising Justices S.Manikumar and G.Chockalingam that Chief Engineer (Irrigation) S.Asokan had issued a circular directing the Water Resource Organisation Executive Engineers to perform Special poojas on June 1 to invoke the rain God.

The official not only issued the circular to perform special poojas but asked the officials to send a report about the performance of pooja by e-mail the next day. The petitioner claimed that as per a 'confidential' circular issued by former Chief Secretary N Haribaskar (1994-96), all sorts of religious activities are restrained within the premises of government offices.

At this, the bench asked how he got the copy of the circular which was supposed to be strictly confidential. When the petitioner said he read about the circular in the 'Rationalism Diary', the Judges asked him to file a report and posted the matter to June 30. Mettur Dam, built across Cauvery, is the main source of irrigation for delta districts in the state and the scheduled date for opening is June 12 every year for the Kuruvai crop.

Due to poor storage in the dam, the opening has been delayed. In the petition, Ilango said he was committed to the principle of secularism and the Chief Engineer had violated the government directions by issuing such a circular. "By the circular, the officer said goodbye to Article 51 A which seeks to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform," he said.

His circular will help encourage the people who are exploiting the public in the name of religion, he said. He further said this act was a violation of Rule 14A of the Tamil Nadu Government Servant Conduct Rules. Hence, the petitioner wanted the court¿s direction to the Chief Secretary, the Public Works Department Secretary and the Water Reesource Organisation Chief Engineer to take punitive action against the officer who issued the circular.

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