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    Water more important than Metro, says HC

    KOCHI: “The people of Kochi may be able to live without a Metro Rail project but they cannot live without drinking water,” the Kerala High Court on Thursday observed. Expressing concern over the delay in providing drinking water, Justice S Siri Jagan directed the state government and the Kerala Water Authority to make arrangements to distribute potable water to the people of Ernakulam District.The court further observed that the Metro Rail may be a necessity for the city but at the same time, the state government should focus on drinking water projects also. The court passed the order while considering a petition filed by Manthra Home Residents Association of Kochi, against the illegal and purposeful delay in providing water connections.“Drinking water facilities are essential to the residents of the district and the situation is very grave,” the court held. The citizens in various parts of the district have been affected by water shortage for over a decade.Taking a serious view of the situation, the court said that, even earlier, the government and its agencies had been reminded about providing adequate supply of clean water to the citizens. But those directives have been repeatedly ignored.“It is not as if there is a dearth of water in the district. Plenty of water flows through the Periyar to the sea and the authorities should initiate steps to bring the water to the city and its suburbs,” the court said. For this, new and additional pipes with sufficient capacity have to be laid, to cater to the increasing demand for water in the district.The suburbs have been experiencing water shortage for at least half a century, while the city has been suffering for the past two decades or so. But, neither the government nor the Kerala Water Authority has taken any steps to solve the problem, the court observed.“It is the cardinal duty of the state and the KWA to provide water to every citizen. If they are unable to do so, they are failing in the constitutional duty vested in them,” the court said. The court also directed the state and the KWA to inform about the steps they propose to solve the issue, within two weeks.