| A man carries his children across a waterlogged road. File picture |
Dec. 5: Gauhati High Court has asked Dispur to constitute a seven-member committee to constantly monitor civic amenities in the city and ensure that the residents fundamental right to life is protected. The panel would comprise experts and senior government officials.
A division bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice A.K. Goel and Justice N. Kotiswar Singh, passed the order acting on a public interest litigation filed by a resident, Gitima Bhuyan, and nine others last month.
The petitioners said in the PIL that drains got choked during road repairs and resulted in overflowing and waterlogging, thereby, posing a threat to life and violating the fundamental rights of residents to life.
The court order said the committee should be headed by additional chief secretary (works). Besides, it should comprise the director of IIT, Guwahati, the principal of Assam Engineering College, Guwahati, the chief engineer (roads) of public works department, the chief executive officer of Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority, the commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation, the chief engineer of water resources department and the chief engineer of town and country planning department.
Devajit Saikia, the counsel who appeared before the bench on behalf of GMC and GMDA today, told this correspondent that the court had asked the government to constitute the committee and submit a report before it on December 12.
The court, after hearing both the parties mentioned that there was a need for a continuous and adequate monitoring mechanism and asked the government to constitute the committee and hold a meeting of the committee on December 9 before the next hearing, Saikia said.
Counsel for the petitioners, Kaberi Medhi Talukdar, said the PIL was filed by a group of citizens facing problems in their day-to-day life caused by waterlogging, uncovered and clogged drains and failure of civic bodies to solve the problems.
I am a resident of Zoo Road and have been facing the problem of waterlogging for long. I am also one of the petitioners and decided to move the court as I felt that the measures taken by government agencies have not been sufficient, Talukdar said.
The order of the division bench of the court, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, states: We are of the view that the issues raised are primarily issues of governance, but clean environment is a part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. Citizens can enforce such rights by seeking appropriate directions when there is failure of public duty of the authorities entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining clean environment.
The court order states that the committee would periodically monitor the situation and submit reports from time to time. It might also identify short-term and long-term measures and take cognizance of the problems in a comprehensive manner.
The court has also fixed December 12 as the next date of hearing of another PIL (44/ 2008) filed by Laxmi Talukdar and others in 2008, complaining of improper cleaning and disposal of garbage.