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Govt should compensate victims of its inaction: Delhi HC

The court said that due to polluted groundwater, several persons of the area are suffering from cancer

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

The government should provide financial assistance and support to people who are the victims of their inaction and omissions, including wrongful incarceration, the Delhi High Court said today.

The court's observation came as it asked the AAP government and the legal services authority here to examine the feasibility of framing a scheme to compensate the victims of inaction or omission by the authorities.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued the directions while noting that in Mustafabad locality of Shiv Vihar area of northeast Delhi has been polluted by carcinogenic discharge from industrial units which are allegedly illegally operating there, due to the inaction of the local authorities.

The court said that as a result of the polluted groundwater, several persons of the area are suffering from cancer.

"The court is concerned with the inaction and omissions of the local authorities, resulting in contamination of which has resulted in several people suffering from cancer.

"It cannot be denied that it is the responsibility of the authorities to provide financial assistance and support to the victims and their family," it said and asked the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) to give their recommendations in four weeks.

The direction came during the hearing of a PIL initiated by the court after a news report highlighted the plight of the residents of the colony.

The report had said that the untreated effluents were contaminating groundwater, the main source of drinking water in the area, and it was linked to the high rate of cancer in that area.

Two deaths and eight suspected tumour cases have been detected in the locality, it had said.

The bench from time to time has been issuing directions, including ordering a CBI probe into how the industrial units were allowed to operate there as well as calling for testing of water samples to find a solution to the problem.

The court today issued the notice to the (DJB) and the power distribution company of the area, asking them to indicate the procedure followed by them while granting water and electricity connections to such units.

"In view of the nature and magnitude of the problem, the issues need consideration," the bench said while making DJB and the discoms of the area a part of the public interest litigation.

The DJB and the discoms have to indicate their stands before the next date of hearing on December 20.

The court told the CBI to start taking action against those who have violated the law by setting up illegal industrial units and those who allowed it to happen.

The direction was also issued to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to provide the reports of the water sample tests to environmentalist Sunita Narain who has been appointed as amicus curiae by the court.

DPCC, represented by advocate Sanjeev Ralli, said the reports will be ready in 15 days.

The Delhi government, represented by standing counsel Ramesh Singh, said 28 families have been identified in the area for grant of compensation under its various welfare schemes.

The CBI said its probe was underway as the court asked it to file a status report by January.

First Published: Mon, November 27 2017. 20:21 IST