BANER-BALEWADI LEFT HIGH AND DRY – Paying crores a year for water, societies seek relief from HC

228 residential complexes shell out Rs 12 crore for water tankers; court sets 3-week deadline for expenditure details from 400 other societies
The upscale Baner-Balewadi housing societies on the western fringes of the city have paid Rs 12 crore in just one year to private water tankers, while alleging a discriminatory attitude on the part of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for not providing basic amenities like uninterrupted water supply.In an affidavit submitted to Bombay High Court (HC) on Friday, the petitioner said residents of 228 housings societies in Baner-Balewadi had to incur Rs12 crore in the last financial year that ended in March. The amount maybe more, he also submitted, if the rest of the small 400 housing societies are surveyed.

The bench allowed three weeks to the petitioner to submit details of these societies as well as expenditure they had to incur on water tankers.

A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Baner-Balewadi residents in January last year. The locals had alleged that they had contributed over Rs 800 crore in the annual budget of the PMC but, despite an upmarket location, they are not getting basic amenities like water, a clear discrimination by the civic body. It was also submitted that each society is spending over Rs 35 lakh annually on water tankers.

The HC, during the last hearing, had asked the petitioners to provide details of water supply status and monthly expenses on the number of water tankers that housing societies have to incur. Accordingly, advocate Anurag Jain, representing the petitioner, submitted the details to the court.Jain also submitted that there are 400 other small societies that are facing a similar problem. He further urged the HC to issue an order to the PMC for supply of adequate water in the area.

Speaking to Pune Mirror, petitioner Amol Balwadkar said, “We have submitted water bills with our affidavit describing total the water expenditure.The court has allowed more time to submit details of the rest of the socie ties before the next date of hearing. We are happy that the high court is serious about the issue. We will demand that the court issue a directive to the PMC to pay compensation to the society for the money spent in the past one year.“

VG Kulkarni, head of PMC’s water supply department, said, “We are aware of the water supply issue in the area. We are trying to resolve it by implementing a new 24×7 water supply scheme as soon as possible.“

The bench, in the last hearing on March 24, had warned the civic body that it would not be allowed permission for any new construction in the Baner-Balewadi area if it fails to take satisfactory steps towards tackling the acute water scarcity in the area, despite good storage in the dam.

Source : TOI