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Thursday, August 30, 2012

‘Post-1995 slums will not get individual water connections’

Officers Who Fail To Check Illegal Slums Face 3 Months In Jail: Govt


Mumbai: No individual water connections will be given to post-1995 slumdwellers, the government emphasized before the Bombay high Court on Thursday. 
    The state said civic corporations have been asked to appoint designated officers to deal with the issue of illegal slums and such officers could face a jail term of up to three months and/or a fine of Rs 20,000 for failing to take action against unauthorized construction. 
    Hearing a PIL filed by Pani Haq Samiti challenging the state's decision to deny water supply to post-1995 slums, a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar asked the BMC to file its response. "All municipal commissioners and chief officers of the state were instructed to ensure that no (individual) water connection was given to unauthorized constructions," an affidavit filed by Seema Dhamdhere, joint secretary in the urban development department, said. The affida
vit was submitted by assistant government pleader Milind More. 
    "Slumdwellers living in structures that have come up after 1995 have no locus standi and those structures are expected to 
be demolished. Individual post-paid water connections should not be given to nonprotected (post-1995) slumdwellers as it would create problems in recovery of water bills if these hutments were to be demolished," said the affidavit, justifying a 1996 circular. According to the government, local municipal authorities had been asked to provide drinking water in such slums through a common connection or public water booths. 
    The affidavit further said municipal bodies in the state have been asked to appoint zone-wise designated officers to remove illegal structures. "The main intention behind the circular was to prevent unauthorized construction and encroachments on public land in municipal areas in the state, which are a matter of serious concern," said the affidavit by Dhamdhere. 
    If new illegal constructions come up, then such officers could be placed under suspension and subjected to a departmental inquiry. Failure to take action could result in prosecution under the BMC Act. 

STRINGENT MEASURES 

• No individual water connections for post-1995 slumdwellers 

• Post-'95 slums to have only common connections or public water booths 

• Designated officers to be appointed to tackle illegal slums 

• If any new illegal structure comes up on the watch of the designated officer, s/he will face suspension and a departmental inquiry 

• On being convicted for failure to take action against encroachments, the officer concerned can be punished with a prison term of up to three months and/or a fine of up to Rs 20,000

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