Residents of Sentul City Won the Right to Water Lawsuit
Residents of Sentul City won the right to water lawsuit against the Municipal Waterworks (Perumdam) Tirta Kahuripan and PT. Sentul City, Tbk. The lawsuit to prove the government’s unlawful acts was filed by 51 residents of Sentul City after their requests for running water and applications to be customers were denied by Perumdam Tirta Kahuripan. The act of denying residents from becoming consumers and denying their request to gain access to running water is unlawful and a violation of human rights, specifically the right to water.
The lawsuit that was filed on World Water Day 2021 was prompted by the discontinuation of the residents’ access to running water arbitrarily by Intervener Defendant II PT. Sentul City. This was because the residents refused to pay the Maintenance and Repair Costs (BPPL) which were expensive and one-sidedly imposed. Cutting off residents’ access to running water was a way for PT. Sentul City to pressure them into paying BPPL despite them having been declared to have no right to collect BPPL in the entire region of Sentul City in another lawsuit won by the residents up to the review stage at the Supreme Court.
Residents have also won the lawsuit to revoke the Drinking Water Supply System (SPAM) license of PT. Sentul City up to the review stage which means that the water supply management should be returned to Municial Waterworks Tirta Kahuripan.
This means that the residents have done a service by giving back the right to manage water supply from a private sector to the state (re-municipalisation), and benefitted the state by increasing the number of their customers.
After successfully giving back the management of water supply to Municial Waterworks, residents whose access to water have been cut off by PT. Sentul City submitted their applications to become customers, have subscription agreements, and gain access to running water again. However, Perumdam insisted that the residents must pay off their BPPL to PT. Sentul City first. This clearly has no relevance between the civil business of the residents and PT. Sentul City with Municial Waterworks as the supplier of water which is a duty-bearer of the right to water. Municial Waterworks has also ignored the recommendation of Ombudsman Jakarta Raya, National Commission of Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM RI), and the Minister For Public Works and Human Settlements to return the residents’ access to running water.
In the Court Decision Number: 28/G/TF/2021/PTUN Bandung, the Panel of Judges granted the entirety of the residents’ claim by deciding that the action of not administering drinking water supply to the residents is a violation of the substance of the law and the General Principles of Good Governance. The court instructed the provision of drinking water supply to the applicants, eliminate the requirement of completion of private agreements to become customers, restore access to drinking water, register and create subscription agreements, and instructed to set the tariff of water in accordance with Bogor Regency’s tariff. In addition, the Panel of Judges granted the demand for the decision to be carried out even if there is a legal appeal from the defendant.
The decision of PTUN Bandung that granted the claims of the Sentul City residents in the right to water lawsuit is surely a breath of fresh air for the public regarding the effort to preserve human rights through litigation. The residents are thankful to PTUN Bandung, especially the Panel of Judges Irvan Mawardi, Fadholy Hernanto, and Tri Cahya Indra Permana, who have protected the residents’ right to water through their decision. The residents hope that this decision will be immediately executed by Perumdam Tirta Kahuripan and can be a lesson for the housing developer to not arbitrarily cut off people’s access to water which is a human right.
AMAR Law Firm & Public Interest Law Office