Pune’s water tanker mafia: NGOs pick up the baton, asks PMC to discontinue ‘water affidavits’ policy
Two voluntary organisations working for the welfare of citizens have appealed to Saurabh Rao, Pune municipal commissioner, to forthwith discontinue the practice of sanctioning building construction plans after obtaining ‘water affidavits’ from builders and promoters.
In a letter submitted to Rao on Tuesday, the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), consumer cause and Pune forum for flat owners (PUFO), have appealed for the suspension of the ‘water affidavit’ system and a public declaration of the Pune municipal corporation’s (PMC) inability to supply water to certain areas of the city.
In her letter to Rao, Aroona Nafday, advocate and convenor of the NGOs, said that the Right To Information (RTI) Act 2005 mandates that every public authority is required to publish all the relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing decisions which affect the public. It is also required to “provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons”.
The PMC should, therefore, publish on its website and display prominently in all ward offices “all details of the policy, decisions and reasons related to the inability of the PMC to supply water to certain areas of the city,” the letter said.
She stressed that in future, sanctioned building plans for land in water scarce areas of the city should “prominently bear in red letters a notice stating that the PMC will not be supplying water to the premises. The same should also be stated in the commencement certificate.”
Nafday urged the municipal commissioner to take immediate action and stop ongoing construction work on sites of those builders and promoters “who have failed, or are failing to supply water and bear the cost of the same as per the affidavits executed by them”.
“Display the names of such builders, promoters and projects on the PMC website, and in all ward offices,” the letter states.
Nafday’s action follows a series of investigative reports published by Hindustan Times on the exploitation of thousands of residents in housing societies in the fringe areas due to acute water scarcity. The reports exposed the scale and operations of Pune’s water mafia.
The NGOs and concerned citizens have taken up the baton of creating awareness about the complete failure of PMC’s water affidavits policy.
While consumer cause works to safeguard consumer interests, PUFO has been dealing with issues related to housing over the last five years.