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After 75 years of independence, people still need to knock on the court’s door for water : High Court

Mumbai: On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court said that a regular water supply is a fundamental right, and it is unfortunate that people have to knock on the court’s door to get water after 75 years of independence. While hearing a petition filed by residents of Kambe village in Bhiwandi town of the neighboring Thane district, a division bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and Milind Jadhav made strong remarks.

STEM Water Distribution and Infra Company, a joint venture between Thane Zilla Parishad and Bhiwandi Nizampur Municipal Corporation, was to supply drinking water on a daily basis to the residents. The petitioners claimed that they only receive water supply twice a month and that too for about two hours each time.

Managing Director Bhausaheb Dangde of STEM informed the court on Wednesday that water was being distributed daily, but only to one particular point, and that the distribution of water to the petitioners’ homes was the responsibility of the village’s gram panchayat. Moreover, Dangde said that the village’s demand for water has increased over the past few years as its population has grown. ‘The system needs to be upgraded’, he said.

The court asked what the petitioners should do until the system is upgraded. ‘Water must be supplied daily for at least an hour or two. It is their fundamental right. It is impossible for people to suffer like this. Even after 75 years of independence, it is quite unfortunate that they (petitioners) still have to go to the court to obtain water, the HC said. Please don’t force us to say that Maharashtra’s government has failed to provide water to its citizens. We reject the idea that the state government is so helpless’. The bench said it would not hesitate to summon the highest state official.

Additionally, they claimed that the STEM company supplied water illegally to local politicians and tanker lobbies, and there were over 300 illegal water connections and valves on the main pipeline. Dangde was asked what steps the company has taken to address these issues.

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Firstly, disconnect the illegal connections. (STEM) has not even bothered to file a police complaint. The petitioners, who are entitled to water, are not receiving water because of your inaction, Justice Kathawalla said, adding that Dangde doesn’t seem interested in solving the problem. In any case, Dangde stated that over 150 people gather and protest the removal of the illegal connections when they go to do so. On Thursday, the HC posted the matter for further hearing and directed Dangde to appear before the court physically and submit an affidavit.


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