Regular water supply is a fundamental right, the Bombay High Court observed upon being apprised about the plight of some villagers in Thane, outside Mumbai, who are being provided with water only twice a month, for two hours.
A division of Justices SJ Kathawalla and Milind Jadhav took strong exception against authorities that failed to remove over 300-400 illegal water connections and stated, this is a “blatant mockery of their (Petitioners) fundamental right.”
Arguments Before the Court
The petitioners, through Advocate RD Suryavanshi alleged that STEM was supplying water illegally to the political leaders, especially municipal councilors of Bhiwandi Nizampur City Municipal Corporation, tanker lobbies, industries in Bhiwandi and Thane and construction sites, earning lakhs of rupees against illegal supply of water. Additionally, STEM is not interested in removing the illegal water tapping/connection and valves fixed on the main pipeline, they alleged.
During the hearing, the Deputy Engineer of STEM informed the bench that they were trying to resolve the issue but couldn’t do so for various reasons. He submitted they had removed 3 illegal connections, however the court confronted him with a letter he wrote admitting there were 300-400 illegal water connections.
The engineer said that whenever an attempt is made to disconnect the illegal water connections, a mob of around 150 individuals gather at site and prevent them from disconnecting the illegal water connections or taking any action against their illegal activities.
Observations by the Court
The court said such a statement could not be accepted and posted the matter for hearing on Wednesday.
“We take pain to record that the abovenamed Petitioners are required to knock on the doors of this Court after 75 years of independence, seeking a direction against the Respondents to provide them with regular water supply, as they are currently supplied with water only twice a month, for approximately two hours,” the court noted.
While rejecting STEM’s answer, the court stated that the explanation is implausible. It is the Petitioners’ fundamental right to get regular water supply as sanctioned by the authorities, and if they receive water supply just twice a month for two hours, it will amount to a flagrant violation of their fundamental right.
The court has now summoned the Commissioner of Police Thane and the Managing Director of STEM Water Distribution and Infra Company Pvt Ltd.
Click here to read the judgement
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