Illegal slums should not get water connection, says HC | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Illegal slums should not get water connection, says HC

The civic body's decision to deny water connections to unauthorised constructions has now been endorsed by the Bombay high court.

mumbai Updated: Feb 10, 2012 00:50 IST
Mohan K Korappath

The civic body's decision to deny water connections to unauthorised constructions has now been endorsed by the Bombay high court.

The court, on Thursday, expressed fears that slum-dwellers would be reluctant to shift out of unauthorised slums if these were given legitimate water connections. The court was hearing a plea by a group of slum-dwellers that sought to quash a state government circular and a subsequent BMC rule that denied water connections to slums that have cropped up after January 1, 1995.

Appearing for petitioners, Pani Haq Samiti and others, advocate Mihir Desai argued that the authorities cannot deny drinking water as it is their fundamental right. They even have the right to food under various schemes, so why not water, Desai contended.

Petitioners urged that they are not seeking private connections, but a public tap to avoid buying water from tankers, which turns out to be expensive.

Desai also pointed out that the 1995 distinction was made only for rehabilitation of slum-dwellers and not for these issues.

"Then you would not want to move away from that place if you have water and electricity," a division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Ranjit More said, while observing that illegal constructions should not be given water connections. The counsel for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) too submitted that the circular was issued to prevent illegal encroachment and construction.

According to the petition, a circular was issued by the secretary, Department of Urban Development stopping supply of drinking water to people residing in slums that came into existence after 1995.

The BMC's water charge rules that came into force in August 2002 also denied water to these slums.

Petitioners have now sought to quash the circular and urge the authorities to supply water for domestic use at the rate of 45 litres per person per day. This provision, the petitioners demand, be extended to non-notified and post '95 slums and structures. The petition claims that the rule has affected around 2,84,309 families.

The high court has now directed the BMC to file a reply within two weeks.