Mumbai: In a setback for the rural population of Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court has clarified that it would not continue monitoring the issue of drought across the state. The HC said it cannot permanently fix the issues pertaining to drought-like conditions, which are prevalent in various parts of the state.
A bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla disposed of a clutch of petitions pending before the HC for last six years. The petitions highlighted the apathy of the government in dealing with drought-like conditions and also the issues faced by rural Maharashtra due to scarcity of water.
The petitions further highlighted the fact that several projects for providing drinking water and irrigation through dams, though proposed have still not been completed.
Having heard both sides, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “We find that the issues projected in these petitions cannot be decided, much less cognisance taken thereof permanently by this court. The issues are concerning the drought-like condition prevailing in different regions of the state.”
Taking note of the main grievance pertaining to the incompleted projects, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “Ultimately, every year there is a drought-like condition and in some parts of the state, the situation is serious. We do not think that by taking affidavits on record or directing constitution of committees or special inquiry teams, taking their reports on record from time to time and issuing directions would improve the situation.”
The bench accordingly put the ball in the government's court terming the issues to be 'policy matters.'
“These matters are not justiciable in a strict sense. When the petitions are filed on such issues and are entertained, the courts cannot be oblivious of the fact that these are policy matters,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.
“We have no control over the provision or allocation of funds, their disbursement and monitoring and supervision of the ongoing projects. This is an endless exercise and there can be a complaint that in one region the drought-like condition is taken care of and some other area is ignored, but we do not think that we can cover the whole state,” Justice Dharmadhikari said, adding, “We do not think that these petitions can be kept pending any longer. They are disposed of accordingly.”