Right to drinking water covered by Constitution: Activists in HC

Contending that the right to drinking water is covered by the constitutional right to life,Pani Haq Samiti,on behalf of slum-dwellers from various parts of the city,has moved the Bombay High Court challenging the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation move to stop their water supply.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published:February 10, 2012 3:34 am

Contending that the right to drinking water is covered by the constitutional right to life,Pani Haq Samiti,on behalf of slum-dwellers from various parts of the city,has moved the Bombay High Court challenging the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) move to stop their water supply.

According to the petition,a circular was issued by the Department of Urban Development stopping supply of drinking water to people residing in slum areas 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 have 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 to non-notified and post-1995 slums and structures through regular municipal water connections.

“If you get water and electricity,you will not move from there,” Chief Justice Mohit Shah remarked.

Arguing for the petitioners,their lawyer Mihir Desai,however,said that 30 lakh people were affected by the corporation’s decision.

“Our (India’s) international obligations say that we will give water to everyone in our country.” Desai said that whether they were authorised dwellers or otherwise,they had a right to live in hygienic conditions.

Comparing it to the fundamental right to education Desai argued,“Can the right to education be denied to a child who lives in a slum that came into existence after 1995?”

The BMC’s lawyer,however,said that they provided water connections only to authorised structures.

The court has asked the BMC to file an affidavit in reply in two weeks.

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