Shimla: Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday accepted the unconditional apology of the officers of the state in water contamination and Jaundice matter and dropped the contempt proceedings against all the officers. After verifying all the reports submitted by the officers, the Court has directed the Solan and Shimla district administration to file fresh status report into the matter. The worst ever jaundice outbreak had rocked Shimla city earlier this year with 21 deaths occurring due to the mixing of sewage with the water supply scheme.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ahemad Meer and Justice Tarlok Chauhan observed that it appears that the respondents have taken positive steps, particularly; the Commissioner, Irrigation and Public Health and the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation are doing their best. The Court added that all the contemnors have tendered their unconditional and unqualified apology and explained their position. However the court asked the special Investigating team to complete its investigation and take the same to logical conclusion.
The Court directed the state government to place on record the decision of cabinet ministers meeting of constituting one authority for distribution of water in Shimla planning area. During the hearing Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan asked the state as to why it is not supplying the water every day as normally the poor residents of town do not have facility to store water. Earlier the court in its February 25, 2016 order had observed that Chief Secretary and the Secretary Urban local Bodies) to the Government of Himachal Pradesh weresupposed to have a vigilance being the Head of the institutions and to ascertain whether the STPs were being maintained properly.
Further, they were supposed to see and ascertain whether the officers concerned were discharging their dutiesproperly and whether the directions have been complied with prima facie. “It appears that they have failed to do so. Had they passed the requisite orders, there would not have been jaundice outbreak. Their failure can be seen in terms of theorders made by them whereby Lift Water Supply Scheme (LWSS) Ashwani Khad stands closed. They are directed to explain by filing affidavits.”
The Court had then directed all the District Magistrates and Superintendents of police and Chief Medical officers to submit status reports to the Court. It may be mentioned here that the High Court had taken suo-moto note of the jaundice outbreak in Shimla and its surrounding area. The prima facie reports revealed that that the untreated water of Dhali STP (Sewerage Treatment Plant) was mixed in the Ashwani Khad water supply scheme.
Later this fact was established from the reports of various testing agencies. The Court had granted interim compensation of Rs two lakh each for next of the kin of persons, who died due to Jaundice in Shimla area. The disease was also spread in Solan district. The state government took the decision to stop water supply from Ashwani Khad on January 2, following which the residents of Shimla have shortage of water as the MC has been supplying water to the town on alternate day. The case would be listed for further hearing after four weeks.
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