"Chennai was once a city of lakes. Where are the lakes now? It is the primary duty of the state to preserve the life source. If a world war happens it would be only for water," a division bench of Justice M M Sundresh and Justice R Hemalatha said.
The court was hearing a plea moved by a resident of Manjavadi village in Dharmapuri seeking action against encroachments along a water stream in the village.
"The government can use the aid of technology in dealing with such issues and laws that were framed several years ago requires to be amended," the bench said and adjourned the plea after four weeks for the authorities to file the report.
The court also took note of media reports which referred to how major lakes in the city suffered encroachments even after completion of eco-restoration work.
The bench observed that the government must consider establishing a separate ministry for water conservation and amend existing laws so as to make the officials concerned accountable for such encroachments.
Noting that the authorities who are in slumber must be woken up, the court on its own impleaded departments including home, local administration, PWD and Chennai Corporation as party respondents and directed them to file a detailed report on the issue.