JAC Board Class 8th Social Science Notes Civics Chapter 9 Public Facilities
→ Water and the People of Chennai:
Different situations are mentioned about the water supply and the people of Chennai.
→ Water as Part of the Fundamental Right to Life:
- Water is essential for life and for good health.
- India has one of the largest number of cases of diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera.
- The Constitution of India recognises the right to water as being a part of the Right to Life under Article 21.
- There should be universal access to water.
- There have been several court cases in which both the High Courts and the Supreme Court have held that the right to safe drinking water is a Fundamental Right.
→ Public Facilities:
- There are things like electricity, public transport, schools and colleges that are also necessary. These are known as public facilities.
- The important characteristic of a public facility is that once it is provided, its benefits can be shared by many people.
→ The Government’s Role:
- One of the most important functions of the government is to ensure that these public facilities are made available to everyone.
- In most of the public facilities, there is no profit to be had.
- Private companies provide public facilities but at a price that only some people can afford.
- This facility is not available to all at an affordable rate.
- Public facilities relate to people’s basic needs.
- The Right to Life that the Constitution guarantees is for all persons living in this country. The responsibility to provide public facilities, therefore, must be that of the government.
→ Water Supply to Chennai: Is it Available to All?
- While there is no doubt that public facilities should be made available to all, in reality we see that there is a great shortage of such facilities.
- Water supply in Chennai is marked by shortages.
- The burden of shortfalls in water supply falls mostly on the poor.
- The middle class when faced with water shortages are able to cope through a variety
of private means such as digging borewells, buying water from tankers and using bottled water for drinking.
- Apart from the availability of water, access to ‘safe’ drinking water is also available to some and this depends on what one can afford.
- In reality, therefore, it seems that it is only people with money who have the right to water – a far cry from the goal of universal access to ‘sufficient and safe’ water.
→ In Search of Alternatives:
- A similar scenario of shortages and acute crisis during the summer months is common to other cities of India.
- The supply of water per person in an urban area in India should be about 135 litres per day (about seven buckets) – a standard set by the Urban Water Commission.
- Whereas people in slums have to make do with less than 20 litres a day per person (one bucket), people living in luxury hotels may consume as much as 1,600 litres (80 buckets) of water per day.
- A shortage of municipal water is often taken as a sign of failure of the government.
- Within India, there are cases of success in government water departments, though these are few in number and limited to certain areas of their work.
- It has also used the services of private companies for transporting and distributing water but the government water supply department decides the rate for water tankers and gives them permission to operate. Hence, they are called ‘on contract’.
- Public facilities relate to our basic needs and the Indian Constitution recognises the right to water, heath, education, etc., as being a part of the Right to Life.
- One of the major roles of the government is to ensure adequate public facilities for everyone.
- There is a shortage in supply and there are inequalities in distribution.