The Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the Panchayat and Rural Development Department to construct a slab culvert on Koteshwari River noting that tribal children belonging to 'Bheel community' are forced to swim across the river to attend school.

The present Public Interest Litigation was based on a news published in the Indian Express Web Portal dated August 8, 2023 exposing that the Tribal Children in Dhar District were forced to swim across a river to attend the school.

Consequentially, bench of Justice Vivek Rusia and Justice Anil Verma thus observed, “In view of above, Writ Petition is disposed of with direction to the respondents to consider the proposal and report sent for construction the Slab Culvert on Koteshwari River and take final decision within a period of 90 days from today. The Panchayat and Rural Development Department for construction of the bridge/culvert may take necessary technical assistance from the Bridge Division of M.P. Public Works Department”.

Government Advocate Bhuwan Gautam appeared for the respondents.

In the present matter, according to the petitioner, on visiting the villages, he had found that there were 30 students studying in the Middle School belonging to different nearby villages who come from the 'Bheel' Community' and are required to cross the Koteswari River daily to attend the School.

It was further submitted that the alternate road connecting the school from their Villages is 10-12 kilometres long, therefore, the construction of a bridge or culvert is necessary. Therefore, the petitioner approached the Court stating that till date no concrete steps have been taken by the respondents in this regard.

The bench accordingly noted that the Chief Executive Officer, Jila Panchayat, Dhar had sent a proposal in the year 2011 to the Panchayat and Rural Development Department for construction of a culvert on the said River, but nothing has been done till date.

After issuance of notice, the respondents filed a reply by submitting that the Rural Engineering Services Department, Dhar taking into consideration the legitimate demand raised with regard to construction of a bridge on the Koteshwari River, is prepared a proposal and sent to Rural Engineering Services Department for construction of said bridge with an estimated cost of the proposed Rs.108.13 Lac.

The said proposal has been forwarded by the Executive Engineer, Rural Engineering Services, Dhar to the Chief Executive Officer, Jila Panchayat Dhar. While giving assurance that the necessary action in the matter will be taken on priority, it was further submitted by the respondents that the bridge will be constructed under the MGNREGA stands for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act after following the due process.

Accordingly, considering the submissions made on behalf of the respondents, the bench noted, “It is clear from the aforesaid return that the respondents are not opposing the construction of bridge on the Koteshwari River. A proposal been sent to the concerned Department for approval. This Court hopes and trust that this will not remain in the note-sheet for years to come and same be given logical end. Construction of bridge is important not only for villagers but students also whether Rural Engineering Services Department, Panchayat and Rural Development Department or Public Works Department construct the same. It is for the Government to sanction the amount and direct the concerned Department”.


Respondents: Government Advocate Bhuwan Gautam

Cause Title: Rishabh Gupta v. The State Of Madhya Pradesh Secretary Vallabh Bhawan Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)

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