The residents of Raheja Gardens are no longer alone in their fight for potable water. Their public interest litigation (PIL) filed in Bombay High Court has stirred a hornet’s nest, with some of the 3,000-odd societies in the city trapped in similar situation drawing inspiration from the court taking cognisance of their plight. At least four other societies comprising of approximately 3,000 apartments have come forward evincing interest in becoming co-petitioners in the PIL. Of them, two societies have already approached the consumer court six months ago.
Over the past 10 years, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has been issuing building permission to builders in locations along all four fringes of the city where the civic body saw itself unable to supply water. These areas include, on the eastern fringe — some parts of Kalyani Nagar, Vadgaonsheri, Dhanori, Kalas, parts of Lohegaon, in the west — Dhayri, parts of Sinhagad Road, in the south — Kondhwa, NIBM Road, Mohammedwadi, Kalepadal and in the north — Aundh and Baner.
Brahma Emerald County:
The development agreements were drawn up on an undertaking that the builder would supply the requisite water to the residents. Many who bought property in such projects were unaware of this agreement at the time of purchase. the dark about this clause,” said Habib Patel, a businessman residing in Brahma Emerald County, a society of 350 flats, at Kondhwa, close to the NIBM Road. His four-year-old society has not seen a drop of water supplied by the builder and has been fending for itself, buying water from private tankers incurring a bill of Rs 1.5 lakh per month. This apart from the water tax they have been paying PMC. The society, which had approached the consumer court six months ago, got a temporary injunction asking the builder to supply water until the final order. Since then the builder has been forced to supply the water at his cost.
“The Raheja Gardens case has taken our issue to the next level, which is above the consumer court,” Patel appreciated. “We want to join hands with them to take our fight forward,” he explained.
Nyati Enclave, a society of 1,500 apartments, at Mohammedwadi has been buying 30 tankers water per month at a cost of Rs 2 lakh. “We have been visited by the Mayor after we met the Divisional commissioner, but it did not yield any result,” Retd Major General V K Madhok, member of the society informed. “Finally, we approached the consumer court, but we know the process will be long-winding here,” he explained his interest in being part of the High Court battle.
In up-market Kalyani Nagar, Suncity spends Rs 15 lakh per month on buying water again from private tankers, to cater not just to its 1000 residences’ basic water requirement but also to run its luxuries of a swimming pool and the landscaped premises, with its stream and other amenities. The five-year old society, which today finds itself well within the growing city limits, is surprised by its continued waterless status.
“This is unacceptable especially given that many of the buildings that have come up beyond our location are today getting water while we continue to be deprived,” said Col Dinesh Lokhande. “The rising the cost of water has us raising the maintenance collection every year by Rs 500-1000,” he added. “PMC need to ensure equitable distribution of water, given that we are all paying our property and taxes. We are hoping HC will give a clarity on this issue and pin the responsibility on the civic body to get its act together,” Lokhande elaborated his society’s urge to be part of the PIL filed in HC.
Another five-year old society Nyati Estate of 400 flats at Hadapsar, which has ignored the paltry water supply (sufficient for only one flat) it has managed from PMC, has been buying its water. Now it too wants to aboard the PIL.
“If more such petitions are filed or if more people become signatories to the ongoing litigation, adding their details, there is a stronger possibility of getting a blanket ruling that can help all affected parties in the city, instead of just one society benefitting from it,” Aroona Nafday, Convenor, Pune Forum for Flat Owners, pointed out. “PMC and builders’ case cannot stand in any court of law,” she held.