PATNA: The Patna high court on Wednesday directed principal secretary, urban development and housing department (UDHD), to chalk out a detailed action plan for providing safe drinking water to people in Patna district. The UDHD has been asked to submit a counter affidavit within two weeks’ time on alarmingly high quantity of harmful contents like arsenic and fluoride in water in the district.
The division bench of Justices Jyoti Saran and Arvind Srivastava also directed Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) commissioner to file a separate counter affidavit on the same issue. If the authorities failed to submit the counter affidavits within stipulated time, they would have to appear physically before the court. The matter would be heard on January 23.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by All Indian Students’ Federation (AISF) seeking direction for providing safe drinking water to the students from primary school to university level. The PIL highlighted harmful substances like arsenic, fluoride and iron contents in Patna groundwater.
The bench orally observed that when a policy could be framed for prohibition, why no such decision can be taken to ensure safe drinking water to people of the state. The court also observed that the PIL was related to Patna district, but in future, as the hearing progresses, it would cover the entire state.
The court was told that the residents of 893 settlements across 65 blocks in 11 districts of Bihar were getting drinking water with high contents of arsenic, fluoride and other harmful substances, which severely affected their health.
The PIL also mentioned that arsenic content in groundwater was found for the first time at Simariya Ojhapatti in Bhojpur district.