Orissa High Court
Cuttack, Nov. 14: Orissa High Court has decided to consider a petition to issue a show-cause contempt notice to chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
The contempt proceedings are for not following a court direction to the state government to ensure drinking water supply on the premises of all anganwadi centres across the state.
The petitioner, who had filed a public interest litigation on drinking water, has moved the high court for issuing contempt notice to Naveen in a petition after the principal secretary for rural development, Surendranath Tripathy, and the commissioner-cum-secretary of the child welfare department, Arti Ahuja, filed affidavits for exoneration from contempt proceedings.
The division bench, before which the objection petition was moved, has kept it on record and fixed November 20 to consider it.
Petitioner Dillip Kumar Mohapatra pointed out that the court had directed the state government to ensure drinking water supply at all the anganwadi centres that are running without such facilities, but Tripathy had stated in his affidavit that the chief minister had directed the chief engineer, rural water supply, to sink tube wells near anganwadi centres and schools.
Contempt proceedings were initiated against the two senior IAS officers for not following the court order issued on March 8 last year for providing drinking water supply to all the 9,543 anganwadi centres that did not have the facility.
While alleging “wilful disobedience of court order”, the petition said: “Instead of carrying out the order of the court, both principal secretary rural development department and commissioner-cum-secretary child welfare department have insisted in their affidavits filed from time to time that they are to carry out the decision of the government and the chief minister, rather than direction of the high court.”
The petition alleged that rig machines were not available when the court direction had to be followed to drill 9,543 tube wells, but when the chief minister asked for 30,000 tube wells to be dug, the machines were available.
“In view of the contentions in the affidavits, notice be issued to the chief minister as to why contempt proceeding shall not be initiated against him,” the petition urged.
The high court had on March 8 last year ordered: “Having regard to the statistics made available on the last date which indicate that drinking water has not been available to 9,543 anganwadi centres the rural development department must see that bore wells are drilled on war footing basis after conducting survey by the geological department of the state government in order to ensure supply of pure drinking water.”
According to the affidavit filed by the principal secretary, rural development department, 5,674 of the 35,346 anganwadi centres did not have drinking water facility on the premises of the centres.