The ruling Shiv Sena-BJP combine in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has finally given its nod to supply water to illegal slums, which have come up in the city after January 1, 2000.
The ruling Shiv Sena-BJP combine in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has finally given its nod to supply water to illegal slums, which have come up in the city after January 1, 2000. This move would mean that water will be now be available to all Mumbaikars living in unauthorised constructions, but they have to pay a heavy price for it.
The supply of water will be conditional. The civic body has laid down several conditions, which the illegal slum dwellers have to follow to avail the supply of water. In addition to this, constructions on pavements, roads, private land, beaches, land developed for public use, project affected slums and in areas, which have been prohibited supply by the courts, have been excluded from the scheme.
According to the conditions, water connections to unauthorised slums would not allot them a legal status and the BMC would retain its right to take action against them. The slum dwellers should form a group and appoint a secretary to apply for the connections. They have to provide domicile proof like ration card or Aadhaar card. The responsibility of paying deposit and water bills will rely on the group secretary. In case of slums on central government land, they should produce no-objection certificate from the Centre. For slums, which have been entangled in dispute between land owners and slum dwellers, the decision to supply water will be taken after consulting the legal department.
However, civic activists have lambasted the BMC’s move of conditional supply saying that the conditions have been framed deliberately to deny water supply to slum dwellers. Raju Vanjare from the Pani Haq Samiti (PHS) said, “It is an injustice to urban poor and also the contempt of high court decision. With so many conditions, not many slum dwellers are likely to benefit from the scheme. It is the fundamental right of slum dwellers to have water connections. The BMC should supply water to them without any conditions.”
As per the new policy, the slum dwellers have to pay higher rates (Rs 4.32 per 1,000 litres) than the regularised slums (Rs 3.25 per 1,000 litres) for the water supply. Considering the eight per cent hike every year, the illegal constructions will be provided water at Rs 4.66 per 1,000 litres.
In December 2014, the Bombay high court, upholding the right to access to water as fundamental right, had directed the BMC to provide water to all slums in the city — irrespective of whether they are legal or illegal. The petitioner PHS had argued that the constitution under Article 21 has given citizens right to water and the BMC cannot deny water to those living in unauthorised slums. However, the proposal to supply water to unauthorised hutments had been turned down by the Sena-BJP alliance thrice earlier.