Ranchi, Feb. 18: Jharkhand High Court has issued a final warning to West Bengal government, asking it to appear in court to explain accusations made in a PIL that blames the neighbouring state for disruption in drinking water supply to Pakur and Sahebganj.
Issuing notices to Bengal chief secretary Sanjay Mitra and Murshidabad district magistrate Rajeev Kumar, a division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice Jaya Roy issued an ultimatum to the neighbouring state today.
The petition, the bench noted, concerned the people of two districts of Jharkhand who were facing problems in supply of drinking water. Hence, the court would be constrained to pass orders if the Bengal government was not represented on the next hearing.
The PIL was filed by one Mita Pandey to ensure uninterrupted drinking water supply to Pakur and Sahebganj, a status report on which was filed in court today by the Jharkhand government.
The report, submitted at the court’s prodding during earlier hearings, clarified that for Pakur and Sahebganj to get drinking water, a pipeline had to be brought into Jharkhand from Farakka Barrage in Bengal. The report also mentioned that for the pipeline to be laid, a 2km-stretch of land in Bengal had to be cleared. The land was occupied by residents and, therefore, the Bengal government would have to initiate land acquisition proceedings to begin laying the pipeline.
This apart, the Bengal government had to acquire a 200sq metre-plot near the barrage to set up a pump house.
In the absence of required land, no further work on either the pipeline nor the pump house could be started, the report noted.
The next high court hearing has been scheduled for April 2.
The bench also directed the state counsel to file a status report on the progress of work in Sahebganj with regard to another specific PIL filed by Siddheshwar Mandal that has been clubbed with Pandey’s petition.
At the instance of the high court, the Centre had earlier said that water from Bengal could be channelled into Jharkhand for use in two districts. Though the Bengal government had agreed to the proposal, nothing has been done to facilitate the project further.
Pandey, a social worker, filed his petition in 2008, claiming inadequate drinking water supply in Pakur. He listed several issues, among which were lack of treatment plants and pipelines. He also said a lone water tank near Pakur court was insufficient for the entire district.