Bombay High Court: Pained to record that the Court doors being knocked after completion of 75 years of independence seeking direction for the provision of regular water supply, Division Bench of S.J. Kathawalla and Milind N. Jadhav, JJ., stated that,
State Government by providing water to its citizens only twice a month, and that too for a mere two hours, is not only depriving its people of their fundamental right, but in doing so is inviting criticism and tarnishing its image, especially when such is the scenario after 75 years of independence.
In the instant matter, petitioners who were being provided only two hours of water twice a month sought direction for a regular supply of water.
They alleged that from reliable resources, they came to know that officers of respondent 7 were supplying water illegally to political leaders especially councilors, tanker lobbies, industries, sizing companies/industries, warehousing complexes and construction sites, thereby earning lakhs of rupees against illegal supply of water. Further, it was submitted that the officials of respondent 7 were not interested in removing the illegal water tapping/connection and valves fixed on the main pipeline.
Deputy Engineer of respondent 7 informed the Court that they were making attempts to supply water to the petitioners on a daily basis but they were unable to do so due to various technical reasons.
High Court stated that it is the fundamental right of the petitioners to get regular water supply as sanctioned by the Authorities and if the water supply is provided to them only twice a month for two hours, the same amounts to a blatant mockery of their fundamental right.
Hence, Managing Director of respondent 7 company as well as Jai Jeet Singh, Commissioner of Police were directed to be present before the Court to inform the steps to be taken to resolve the problem along with the steps proposed to be taken to disconnect the illegal 300-400 water connections.
On 9th September, the Advocate General referred to the affidavit filed by respondent 7 wherein two types of measures to fulfill the increased demand for water due to the rise in population in village Khambe was proposed.
The long term measure proposed, is to change the 36 years old pipeline which currently supplies 11 MLD water to 34 villages ; after the old pipeline is changed, the 34 villages will receive additional 31 MLD water. For this purpose, the Respondent No. 7 is in the process of preparing a Detailed Project Report (‘DPR’) ; and to meet the technical and procedural compliances, the long-term measure proposed will take about three to four years.
short-term measure proposed, is to lay “a new pipeline of around Rs.4 Crores bypassing or bifurcating from village Khoni directly to village Khambe …”. According to the Respondent No. 7, the short-term measure can be achieved within a period of one year.
High Court informed the Advocate General that the State cannot expect the poor villagers to wait for one year for laying a separate pipeline by-passing village Khoni and supplying water directly to village Khambe, and certainly not for a period of three to four years for providing an additional supply of 31 MLC to the 34 villages.
With respect to illegal water connections, High Court stated that,
State machinery or any Statutory Authority cannot tolerate any illegal activity to commence / continue only because a group of wrongdoers / antisocial elements / hooligans make an unlawful attempt to prevent legal action being taken against such illegal activity. It is the duty of the State to ensure that such unlawful activities are nipped in the bud.
Court informed Advocate General to constitute a committee for the removal of every illegal water connection.
Deputy Commissioner of Police ensured full cooperation to all concerned in removing all illegal water connection from village Khoni.
Court informed the Advocate General that in the interest of the State, the orders pertaining to the subject matter will be forwarded to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra so that the problems of the citizens of Maharashtra can be looked into seriously. [Shobha Vikas Bhoir v. State of Maharashtra, WP No. 5256 of 2021, decided on 9-09-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
Mr R.D. Suryawanshi for the Petitioners.
M A.A. Kumbhakoni, AG a/w. Mr A.I. Patel, Addl. G.P., Mr. R.S. Pawar, AGP for the State.
Mr A.S.Gaikwad a/w. Mr B.R.Khichi, Mr Anjalai Kolapkar for Respondent 7. Mr Yogesh Chavan, DCP, Zone-II, Bhiwandi, present.
Dr Bahusaheb Bansi Dangade, Managing Director of Respondent 7, present.