Although the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has agreed to supply water even to illegal slums, following the Bombay high court’s order, officials claimed it would take another two years for them to do so. While some areas don’t have water distribution lines, other lack technical permission from central authorities.
After a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the high court in 2012, the court had asked the civic body to frame a policy to provide water to illegal slums that have come up after January 1, 2000, and submit it to the court. The HC had ordered the BMC to come back with an approved policy before March 2.
The BMC has formed the policy — of providing water to illegal slums at the rate of Rs 4.32 per 1,000 litres. However, the civic body failed to finalise the draft and get it approved on time, forcing it to seek for an extension to submit the draft by April 2.
The BMC has stated that water will not be provided to slums that have come up on areas reserved for various civic projects, huts on footpaths and non-declared huts on private land. Regarding slums where the property owner and slum dwellers have matter pending with the court, the BMC would seek legal advice and then decide on providing water. No water will be supplied to the slums on plots belonging to the Centre, without a no objection certificate.
Civic officials, however, fear that with the standing committee’s ruling party members opposing the policy, the deadline of April might not be met. An engineer from the hydraulic department said, “The laying of distribution channels to areas where there is no water pipeline will take at least two years. With the standing committee’s major ruling party opposing the proposal, we are finding it difficult to get the policy approved on time.”
Rais Shaikh, leader of Samajwadi Party, said, “The policy talks about providing water to all and I completely support the cause. However, it also states that NOC from the Centre is required, which makes it difficult for the slums to get water supply. I have demanded that such clauses, which don’t allow citizens to get basic facilities, be removed from the policy.”
The chief hydraulic engineer, Ramesh Bambale, said, “We are acting as per the high court’s orders and the policy needs to be drafted and presented to the high court by April 2.”