Holding that residents cannot be deprived of the right to drinking water merely on the ground that theirs is an unauthorised colony, the Delhi High Court Monday directed the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to make a scheme for supply of drinking water to residents in Defence Services Enclave in south Delhi and also requested the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to convene a meeting for a decision on regularising the area.
DJB had earlier told the court that the water pipeline can be laid in the area subject to clearance from the Urban Development Department, and currently, water is being supplied for drinking purposes through tube wells as an interim arrangement.
Justice Jayant Nath said in the verdict that it is settled legal position that right to access drinking water is fundamental to life and there is a duty of the State under Article 21 to provide clean drinking water to its citizens.
“The petitioners have been residing in the said area for the last 50 years and cannot continuously be deprived of this right to access to drinking and potable water,” the single-judge bench said in the ruling.
Requesting the Secretary, MoD to convene a meeting of functionaries who can take a decision in terms of directions passed by a division bench in March 2015, Justice Nath also said the Secretary of Ministry of Urban Development and Chief Secretary, Delhi may form part of the Committee.
“The said Committee so constituted by the Secretary, MoD is requested to take an appropriate decision as spelt out herein as per law expeditiously preferably within four months from today,” the order reads.
The 53 petitioners before the court included veterans, decorated officers, war-widows and Armed Forces personnel and were allotted plots by MoD in Khanpur on agriculture land pursuance of a scheme formulated in 1961. However, the authorities in Delhi declared it an unauthorised colony as the allotment was for the purpose of farm houses and not residential purpose.
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