A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the State government and the Ernakulam district administration to ensure that sufficient quantity of drinking water was supplied daily to Vypeen residents.

The Bench comprising Justice S. Siri Jagan and Justice K. Harilal issued the directive on a petition filed by Rosy Arrackal of Vypeen.

The court came down heavily on the State government when the government pleader submitted that financial assistance had been sanctioned for supplying drinking water to the islanders. The court said the fund would remain on paper and not quench the thirst of the islanders.

The Bench observed that providing clean drinking water did not seem to be a priority for the government. The islanders have been demanding drinking water for decades. The court had repeatedly reminded the government of its duty to provide drinking water to the islanders. It should have been accorded top priority by the government and its agencies. The islanders continued to remain thirsty.

Drinking water should be provided to all, irrespective of the colour of the flag they were holding. Even a change of government had not made any difference to the plight of the islanders.

Issuing the directive, the court said when such a problem was brought to the notice of the court, it was the cardinal duty of the court to see that the grievances were redressed.

Basil Attipetty, counsel for the petitioner submitted that despite earlier directives, Vypeen islanders were yet to get potable water to slake their thirst.

The government in an affidavit had said that a United Nations study had pointed out that Vypeen was one of the thickly populated areas in Asia. As many as 70 litres of water per head was required a day in the islands, the counsel said. In fact, women and children had to wait day and night in front of the public taps to collect drinking water. As a result, the people of the islands had been deprived of their right to life.

The demands of the islanders had often fallen on deaf ears, he said.

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