Delhi witness of hunger accident, water crisis but huge amount of food, water wasted by the rich: SC
NEW DELHI: Taking note of the massive waste of food items
and excessive use of water
in wedding parties and other functions in Delhi, the Supreme Court on
Wednesday expressed concern and said it is unacceptable in the city
which is witnessing drinking water crisis and
deaths due to starvation.
Referring to July incident in which three siblings died due to starvation, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta said that thousands of litre of water tons of food got wasted during such ceremonies when the common people are got getting safe drinking water and Delhi is logged in legal battle with Haryana on water supply.
The court said that it was high time a policy is framed to curb wasting of water and food and asked Delhi chief secretary to appear before it on December 11 to assist the court in addressing the issue. The court noted that one motel or farm house stores one lakh liter water for organising the wedding and other functions.
“We are also told that there are hundreds of motels and farm houses carrying out similar activities with varying degree of coverage of pandals. One can only imagine the amount of water required for carrying on the functions by the applicant and others similarly placed... That apart, we also find that tons of food is served in these functions including weddings and a large quantity of food goes waste. We are mentioning this in the context of an unconfirmed report that had appeared in one newspaper sometime back that three girls starved to death in Delhi,” the court said.
“In other words, there is a huge amount of mismanagement of scarce water and wastage of food. Surely, no one can say that this waste is in public interest. The attitude of the state and the authorities under the state including the Municipal Corporation appears to be in favour of the motels and farm house owners much to the detriment of public interest,” it added.
The court said that the authorities must give precedence to public interest rather than commercial and financial interest of owners of motels and farm houses. “It is a matter of common knowledge that the availability of drinking water and availability of food is a natural human right and this must be respected by who ever is concerned with governance in Delhi,” the court said.
After cracking the whip on illegal constructions and use of residential premises for running business which led to the sealing of hundreds of buildings, the Court agreed to bring within its scanner misuse of farmhouses and motels in Delhi for marriage ceremonies and parties. It sought explanation from South Delhi Municipal Corporation on rules permitting farmhouses and motels in south Delhi to host marriages and other events on their premises for 75 days in a year. There are 34 motels and 25 ‘legal’ farmhouses in south Delhi.
Under the new policy, motel owners are allowed to erect structures for hosting events covering not more than 40% of the total area. The owners will have to pay a booking charge to the civic body at the rate of Rs 4.90 per square feet per day in case of motels and farmhouses located on national highways. The farmhouses on inter-state roads will have to pay Rs 3.70 per square feet, per day and those on internal roads will be charged Rs 3 per square feet per day for hosting events.
Challenging the order, SC-appointed monitoring committee said that SDMC had no power and authority to issue such circular and earlier such functions were allowed only on temporary basis as there was shortage of marriage sites in the city. The Court had sought response from SDMC on the issue.
As SDMC failed to respond to court’s notice, the bench slapped a fine of Rs One lakh and directed it to deposit the amount with the Supreme Court Middle Income Group Legal Aid Society.