Property, Inspections, Jurisdiction, Remedies
On the approved plan and permit issued by the Municipality, the petitioners carry on business in the name and style "Aqua Line Fresh Water" and are extracting water from the well in their property and supplying the same to various institutions in the public and private sectors. The petitioners are notified by the Municipality to stop drawing of water in excess of what is stated in a report by the Groundwater Water Department Acting under the Kerala Municipality Act, 1954. The petitioners contend that the activity, if prevented, would not only result in commercial loss to them, but would affect the supply of drinking water to various parts of Ernakulam District and that various institutions, including public offices in Ernakulam District are likely to run short of drinking water. It is further pointed out that the petitioners are being discriminated against while there are other persons carrying on similar activities. Per contra the official respondents and private parties contend that the depletion of water sources has to be prevented. Section 30 of the Kerala Municipality Act, 1994 provides for powers, functions and responsibilities of the Municipality which include the administration of a municipal area in respect of the matters enumerated in the First Schedule to the Act. Such power of administration of a municipal area by the Municipality includes the mandatory functions of conservation of traditional drinking water sources, preservation of ponds and other water tanks, maintenance of waterways and canals under the control of the Municipality, as well as Sector-wise distribution of functions, including carrying out conservation of water and implementation of ground water resources development as part of Minor Irrigation. The larger public interest involved in the matter is explicit in the report of the Ground Water Department. Having found that the impugned decision does not lack jurisdiction, contrasting the private interest of the petitioners with the larger public interest as reflected in the said report, without forgetting the plea of the petitioners that they are supplying drinking water to the public in Ernakulam, the Court does not find any ground to grant any relief to the petitioners in exercise of writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.