BJP supporters celebrate and distribute sweets at Bhalubasa after the high court declared its verdict on civic amenities for slums on Tuesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jharkhand High Court, in a landmark judgment on Tuesday, ordered Tata Steel and its wholly owned subsidiary, utility services provider Jusco, to give water and power connections to 106 slums — 86 under Schedule V of Tata lease, along with 20 others beyond its jurisdiction.
“About two lakh people will benefit. This is indeed a historic judgment which will change the fate of slum dwellers,” former advocate-general of Jharkhand and prosecutor Anil Kumar Sinha told The Telegraph over phone from Ranchi.
The bench of Chief Justice R. Bhanumathi and Justice Amitav Gupta gave Tata Steel and Jusco a six-month deadline for installing new connections as well as a two-month ultimatum to restore the incomplete ones.
The high court had passed the order based on a PIL filed by Chandrashekhar Mishra, president of Bustee Vikas Samiti — an umbrella organisation of 86 slums — on May 18 this year.
The PIL had demanded civic amenities, including water and electricity connections, in slums located within a 10km radius of the Tata Steel lease area.
Local BJP members became jubilant once the verdict was pronounced.
Patron of Bustee Vikas Samiti and BJP legislator Raghubar Das, who played a key role in this fight for water and power connections, expressed his satisfaction.
“We welcome the court’s decision. It was promised by the steel major when the lease agreement was renewed in 2005,” said Das.
Senior BJP leader and former legislator Sarayu Roy also agreed with Das.
“We have been fighting for this cause for a long time. We are happy with Jharkhand High Court’s verdict. The slums in and around the steel city will finally get quality water and power supply from Jusco,” he added.
When contacted, chief of corporate communications, Jusco, Rajesh Rajan, however said they “have not yet received any official document”.
“Let the official copy of the verdict come. We will study it and then do whatever is required,” said Rajan.
A Tata Steel spokesperson said they welcomed the judgement.
“We will provide water and power supply through Jusco, which is our service provider according to the high court’s order,” the spokesperson added.
Slum dwellers are elated. Ram Janamnagar resident Rishikesh Mahto summarised the popular mood.
“We were forced to fetch water from far-off places to meet our daily requirement. The situation used to worsen during the summer months. With water being provided by services provider Jusco from now on, we can finally heave a sigh of relief,” he said.