Legal Correspondent

‘Find out methods of converting saline water into fresh water’

‘Centre, States should render all help to panel’

New Delhi: People getting water is part of the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court held and directed the Centre to constitute a committee of scientific experts in two months to address shortage.

“Without water there can be no life, as the Hindi poet Rahim wrote, and Article 21 guarantees the right to life to all persons living in India,” a Bench consisting of Justices Markandey Katju and H.L. Dattu said in an interim order on Tuesday.

“The committee should do scientific research on a war-footing for solving water shortage in most parts because of which our people are suffering terribly.”

The committee should regard this work as a patriotic duty and the entire people of India, including non-residents settled abroad, should help this panel, the court said.

The committee “shall do scientific research on a war-footing to find out inexpensive methods of converting saline water into fresh water. This will be very useful in coastal States.”

Distillation, reverse osmosis, etc, were very expensive and a poor country like India could not afford these methods, the Bench said.

“Scientific research should be done to find out methods of harnessing and managing monsoon rainwater and also to manage flood waters.”

Research should be done on rainwater harvesting and treatment of wastewater so that it might be recycled and made potable.

“The committee should be given all financial, technical and administrative help by the Central and State governments for this purpose.”

Help and advice of foreign experts and/or Indian scientists settled abroad “who are specialised in this field may also be taken since the solution to the problem will not only help India but also foreign countries which are facing the same problem.”

“We propose to monitor this case from time to time,” the Bench said and directed that the matter be listed for August 11, when a progress report would be submitted by the committee chairman.