Probe BMC officials: Rights panel to govt

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https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/civic/probe-bmc-officials-rights-panel-to-govt/articleshow/67968126.cms

Says civic body acted only after Mirror’s 2016 report revealed that 60 residents were suffering from jaundice, liver ailments.

The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) has asked the state government to initiate an inquiry against erring BMC officials in a shocking case of water contamination that had left more than 60 residents of a residential society in Dadar grappling with jaundice. 

In a sharp rap for the civic body, the commission also ordered it to enquire about the victims’ health and pay compensation to them. 

The order, a copy of which was made available on February 7, 2019, comes two years after Mirror exposed chronic cases of jaundice and liver-related ailments due to contaminated water at the Palan Sojpal colony near Kabutar Khana, Dadar ( Mumbai’s sickest society, October 3, 2016). The contamination was caused by a damaged pipeline. The residents had claimed that they were receiving water “smelling like rotten eggs” and often contained worms and insects. 

In its order, the MSHRC asked the additional chief secretary of urban development department to issue directions to the municipal commissioner to initiate an inquiry and “award monetary compensation to concerned victims of the society on a case-to-case basis, after a detailed verification on their medical records”. 

The panel came down heavily on the civic body for showing laxity and pinning blame on the residents. The order notes that it was only after Mirror published the report that the authorities got cracking and traced the source of contamination to the main pipeline that the BMC is supposed to maintain. 

The civic body then carried out CCTV inspection, detection of leakage points, cleaning of sewers and tanks, flushing, repairs of service pipes and testing of water samples till the water was deemed fit for drinking. 

“(BMC) officers’ oral clarification that the contamination was due to the non-maintenance of the water service pipeline by the said society is not substantiated by their own explanation on record which clearly indicates that the contamination was due to leakages in the main pipeline. The main culprit or source of contamination was found on water main along Meenatai Thackeray Flower Market. It is the corporation which miserably failed in complying and discharging its duties,” the order states. 

Laying out a set of recommendations for the BMC to take precautionary measures to avoid a repeat of such an incident, the commission further said, “The corporation should not wait for the media to bring such mishaps to its notice and then initiate damage control steps. An honest tax payer has been deprived of his right to live with honour and dignity to enjoy a healthy life, due to laxity in the part of the civic authority in the present case.” 

Koshika Krishna, a 22-yearold law student who became the complainant in the case, said, “I am happy with the order. Water is an acute issue as it is related to right to life. Civic officials didn’t attend the hearings regularly and submitted irrelevant documents to frustrate the process.” 

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