The Delhi High Court slammed the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) for failure to repair damaged drains in time as a result of which water mixed with sewage flowed out of taps in some parts of Vasant Kunj in South Delhi in the last week of January.
“This cannot be seen as an isolated incident. It has to be seen as a larger issue. Imagine if sewer is flowing through drinking water taps in the national capital, what about other parts of the country? We are fortunate it is not coming in our taps”, Justice SK Kaul told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Gopal Subramanium.
Justice Kaul was heading a bench also comprising Justice S.K. Misra. They were hearing appeals filed by former CEO of DJB Arun Mathur and two other officials convicted for contempt of court on November 25, 2008 for not repairing broken sewer lines in Greater Kailash-I despite court directions three years ago. The violation of the court directive had led to sewage leaking into the adjacent storm water drain and flowing directly into the Yamuna untreated.
The stinging observations from the bench came when Ashok Sethi, the lawyer representing GK-I residents, referred to the plight of Vasant Kunj residents first reported by Hindustan Times on January 28. Residents of pockets C-1, C-2 and C-9 had got tap water laced with sewage and cow dung for four days before it was set right.
The Division Bench had on December 16 stayed the two-week imprisonment given to officials if they did not repair the GK-I drains within three months, till the pendency of the appeals. Sethi said besides polluting the Yamuna, the stench from the rainwater drain had made life “hell for residents and exposed them to diseases like hepatitis and jaundice”.
Mathur contended he could not comply with the single judge's order as he is no longer working in the DJB. The DJB told the court, tenders have already been finalised and work of laying down fresh sewer pipes shall be completed soon.
Observing that “genuine efforts were being made to address the problem", the ASG said he would soon submit a timetable in this regard.