Noted corporate lawyer and Supreme court Advocate Syed Iqbal Tahir has filed a public interest litigation titled Syed Iqbal Tahir vs Union Territory of J&K & Others (WP (C) PIL No. 15/2020) before the High Court of J&K regarding the drinking water problem of Karewa region of Anantnag. In his petition, Syed Iqbal Tahir has submitted that the inhabitants of villages Rambirpora, Kehribal, Karewa Rampora, Wantrag, Roonipora, Brah of District Anantnag have suffered badly for decades due to an acute shortage of clean and safe drinking water. The people of these villages are currently getting drinking water supply from ‘Shah-Koul’ (an irrigation canal) which is completely unsafe and cannot be used for drinking purposes. Due to non-availability of potable drinking water to the inhabitants the only option left with them is to utilize the water flowing in the irrigation canal and as a result thereof the inhabitants usually suffer from water-borne diseases.
The petitioner has alleged that in May 2016, 1MGD Rambirpora-Kehribal Water Supply Scheme was sanctioned by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. The scheme was taken up under National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and was to be completed within 2 years. The petitioner has alleged that the PHE Department, however, has not only failed to complete the scheme but has now officially called it off for unknown reasons. Even after almost 4 years later, the scheme remains incomplete forcing the locals to use the contaminated and unfiltered water of the local stream for drinking purposes. “Officials of the Public Health Engineering Department worked on the scheme for few months and later abandoned the same. Also, pipes meant for the scheme were lying on roadside in Rambirpora-Kehribal and a filtration plant constructed in the area is also lying dysfunctional”, the petition says.
The petitioner has argued that in India, the right to ‘pollution-free water’ and the right of access to ‘safe drinking water’ is a part of ‘Right to Life’ under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In addition to Article 21, Article 39(b)of the Directive Principles of State Policy recognizes the principle of equal access to the material resources of the community. He has also submitted that various International Conventions and Treaties, to which India is a signatory, recognize the rights to food, human health and development and the same cannot be attained or guaranteed without also guaranteeing access to basic clean water.
The petitioner has prayed that the High Court shall direct the government to provide clean drinking water to the inhabitants of Villages Ranbirpora, Kehribal, KarewaRampora, Wantrag, Roonipora and Brah of District Anantnag.
Taking cognizance of the matter, the J&K High Court has issued a notice to the government and asked for action taken report.
Get real time update about this post directly on your device, subscribe now.