HC says people have a fundamental right to get regular supply of drinking water

A view of Bombay High Court in Mumbai. File   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday severely criticised the drinking water service provider for failing to provide for the residents of a village in Thane district.

“It is unfortunate that even after 75 years of Independence people have to knock on the doors of the court to get regular drinking water, which is their fundamental right,” the court said.

A Division Bench of Justices S.J. Kathawalla and Milind Jadhav was hearing a petition filed by some residents of Kambe village in Bhiwandi.

They complained that they got drinking water only twice a month and that too for two hours. The service provider is STEM Water Distribution and Infrastructure, a joint venture of the Thane Zilla Parishad and the Bhiwandi Nizampur Municipal Corporation. The villagers said the service provider illegally supplied water to local politicians and tanker lobbies.

Bhausaheb Dangde, STEM’s MD, told the court that water was being supplied daily, but only up to a particular location. He claimed that the distribution of water from that point to the petitioners’ homes was not the responsibility of the company but that of the village’s gram panchayat.

The court interrupted him and said, “Water has to be supplied daily for at least a few hours. This is their fundamental right. People cannot suffer like this.”

The Bench went on to say, “Don’t force us to say that the Maharashtra government has failed to provide water to its citizens. We refuse to accept that the State government is so helpless. We will not shy away from calling the highest functionary of the State government.”

The court said, “First remove the illegal connections. You [STEM] have not even bothered to file any police complaints. Because of your inaction, the petitioners, who have to receive water as a right, are not getting any water.”

The court directed Mr. Dangde to file an affidavit and appear physically in court on September 9.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 9:24:20 AM |

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