The Bombay High Court on Tuesday ordered that people residing in slums that came into existence in the city before January 1, 2000, should be supplied water by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Contending that the right to drinking water was covered by the constitutional right to life, Pani Haq Samiti, on behalf of slum-dwellers from various parts of the city, had moved the HC in 2012, challenging the BMC move to stop their water supply.
Till now, only those slums, which came up before January 1, 1995, were protected under the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971.
Justices Anoop V Mohta and A A Sayed took into consideration the submissions made by state government’s lawyer Milind More. He told the court that state’s Urban Development Department (UDD) sent a letter to the BMC on May 31, whereby it had taken the opinion of the housing department.
The housing department had in turn intimated the UDD that provisions – 3X, 3Y and 3Z – dealing with protection, registration and rehabilitation were amended to accommodate slums that came up till January 1, 2000.
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Petitioner’s lawyers, Sariputta Sarnath and Mihir Desai, sought the implementation of the move to all slums and suggested that the slum-dwellers could pay taxes for the facility. More, however, contested it citing the amendment and insufficient availability of water with the municipal corporation.
In addition, the BMC informed that as per the state government’s directions, they had issued an internal circular to provide water to such structures.
According to the PIL, a circular was issued by the UDD to discontinue supply of drinking water to people residing in slums that came into existence after 1995. In August 2002, the BMC’s water charge rules came into force denying water to these slums, they contended.
The petitioners had urged the court to quash the circular and direct the authorities to supply water for domestic use at the rate of 45 litres per person per day, including those residing in non-notified and post-1995 slums and structures through regular municipal water connections.
While disposing of the PIL, the judges granted liberty to the petitioner to file a separate petition raising their contention of water supply to all slums.