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Give water to illegal slums as it is a consitutional right: HC

Flood in Srinagar

Mumbai, Dec 16 (PTI) The Bombay High Court today ruled that Mumbai’s civic body was duty-bound to supply water to illegal slums in and around the city as people had a right under the Constitution to get water.

However, a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to demolish illegal slums which have come up after year 2000.

It also directed the civic body to come out with a policy on how would it provide water supply to the illegal slums.

The bench was of the view that the manner in which water is supplied to slums should not be different from the (water supply) scheme adopted for the citizens of the city and suburbs.

The court said that water was a basic need of people as they cannot live without it. They said the citizens had a right under Article 21 of the Constitution (protection of life) to get water.

The matter arose during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Nivara Hakk, an NGO, for protection and preservation of open spaces in the city. It also raised an issue of illegal conversion, diversion or reduction of open spaces in the guise of slum rehabilitation.

The PIL challenged the Government Resolution (GR) dated June 3, 1992 on the Maharashtra government policy on open spaces encroached by slums dwellers.

It said that over 45-50 per cent of Mumbai’s population lives in slums. Greater Mumbai has about 482.74 sq kms area, out of which about 220.54 sq kms is marked for development for housing, industrial, commercial, service etc. This excludes the area earmarked for railways, roadways, airport, defence etc, which is about 54 sq kms.

There is merely an area of 13.68 sq kms, which is reserved for open space for residents of Mumbai, but 5.30 sq kms out of this is encroached. So there is hardly 8.38 sq kms of area available as open space which can be used for gardens, play grounds, and recreational ground etc, said the PIL.

“We are apprehensive that the implementation of the impugned GR would cause great damage to the city as it provides for freeing up of one-third of the land for open spaces which are encroached”, said the PIL.

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