PIL accuses people close to Babubhai Bokhiriya of pilfering water

Even as several districts in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region are reeling under drought-like conditions, State Water Supply Minister Babubhai Bokhiriya is facing allegations that people close to him are pilfering water in his own constituency of Porbandar.

Three residents of Porbandar, birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, have moved a public interest litigation petition in the High Court alleging that close lieutenants of Mr. Bokhiriya were involved in large scale theft of water in the town that gets hardly 20 minutes of supply at low pressure.

The High Court has issued notices to the Minister and 17 others. It will hear the case on Friday.

The petitioners, Maldebhai Ranavaya, Jayesh Balas and Vijay Chudasama, have alleged that the persons involved in the theft have dug four wells on two private and two public plots right under the overhead water distribution network pipelines. The pipelines are broken at certain points close to the wells. According to the petitioners, the damaged part has been covered with rubber sheets that are removed at night to fill the wells. The water is sold at exorbitant prices. It has been alleged that an illegal construction has been made around the wells to ensure they are not visible.

The petitioners said despite written complaints to the authorities, including the police, nothing has been done. They have demanded a special investigation team (SIT) to look into the issue.

The water supply in the town hardly meets 20 to 25 per cent of the people’s requirement, they said.