Taking a strong note of water supply issues being faced by housing societies and apartment complexes in Pune district, the Bombay High Court Friday directed the state government to submit an affidavit about the actions taken over a previous court order that directed the civic bodies in Pune to resolve the issue.
A fresh Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed on behalf of a number of housing societies, federations and forums from across the district. Pune Municipal Corporation, Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, Pune Zilla Parishad, Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (PMRDA), the state government and the Centre have been made respondents in the case. The PIL was heard by the division bench headed by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja.
In the PIL it was argued that although Pune district has received surplus rains in the last few years and all the dams that supply water for domestic purposes are full, a big chunk of the domestic users does not get enough water. The PIL argued that numerous housing societies (as many as 70 per cent of the 18,000 housing societies and 12,000 apartment complexes) rely on water tankers by paying money.
In October 2017, hearing a similar PIL filed in 2015, the Bombay High Court had directed that a committee composed of municipal officials be formed to resolve issues pertaining to supply of water. The current petition said that the committee did not function and the issues still persist.
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The Bombay High Court directed the state government and civic bodies to submit an affidavit if the order was complied with at all.
Advocate Satya Muley, who argued for the petitioners, said, “As much as 70 per cent of Pune district is now in the tanker mafia’s grip. Despite surplus rainfall this year and several past years, the housing societies in Pune district – be it urban, semi-urban and rural areas — receive very scanty or no water supply. Many societies have to wait for 3-4 days just for 15 minutes of water supply. However, if you pick up and call a tanker-water supplier, you get it in 15 minutes.”
Advocate Muley argued that in neighbourhoods such as Baner, Balewadi, Wagholi and Hinjewadi, the water problem is extremely serious and housing societies do not get water supply from the corporation even for 15 minutes a day.
He added, “The citizens are forced to buy water with no accountability for its quality, as a result, many people are suffering from skin diseases, hair fall and gastrointestinal problems.”
In its October 2017 order, the High Court had directed the formation of a special committee comprising municipal commissioners of PMC, PCMC and deputy commissioners in-charge of water supply department and city engineers of these bodies. The court had directed that the committee’s existence and meetings should be widely publicised so that citizens and housing society representatives know where to go if they face water issues.
“It’s not clear what happened to this committee. Hence, the High Court has now directed the state government to investigate the matter and submit a statement in court on December 13,” said Muley.
Petitioners include Wagholi Housing Societies Association, Pune District Co-operative Housing Societies And Apartments Federation, Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat, Pimpri-Chinchwad Co-operative Housing Welfare Societies Federation Ltd, Baner-Pashan Link Road Welfare Trust, Balewadi Residency Co-operative Housing Welfare Federation Ltd, Dear Society Welfare Association, Bavdhan Citizens Forum, Hinjawadi Employees and Residents Trust, Aundh Vikas Mandal and Association of Nagar Road Citizens Forum.