666 litres of free water every day to each household
After ending the VIP culture in the capital, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government on Monday fulfilled another big promise, announcing 666 litres of free water every day to each household with functional water meters. It amounts to 34 buckets of water per family of five every day.
The announcement was made by the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Delhi Jal Board, Vijay Kumar, at a press conference in front of Mr. Kejriwal’s residence at Kaushambi in Ghazaibad.
Mr. Vijay Kumar later told reporters: “All domestic consumers having metered connection will get 20 kilolitres of water a month free of cost, starting January 1. We will not even levy any existing charges, such as water cess and sewerage charge. But, if the consumption limit crosses 20 kilolitres, the consumer will have to pay for the total water and other charges.”
At present, consumers pay Rs. 200 for 20 kilolitre a month. Defending the big decision, Mr. Kejriwal tweeted immediately after the announcement was made: “It is the duty of any responsible government to provide ‘lifeline water’ to its citizens. We may debate the quantum but can we argue against the principle?” The Chief Minister alsoclarified that the free water scheme was not for three months as reported by a section of media. “It is wrongly being said that our decision is for 3 months. Decision is for good. But obviously financial calculations are for the remaining period of the current financial year…” which will end of March 31,” he further tweeted.He also explained that the DJB would suffer a revenue loss of only Rs. 160 crore a year and just Rs. 40 crore for the remaining part of the year.
However, the freebie has come with a spike in water tariff by 10 per cent for consumption above 666 litres. The hike is expected to enable the DJB to generate the extra revenue at the cost of rich consumers, said a DJB official. According to government statistics, 30 per cent of Delhi population lives in urban villages and unauthorised colonies and these localities – which house poor sections -- have no official water connection. The city has about 14,000 km of water pipeline network and only 68 per cent of the households have piped water connection. About 25per cent of the city area remains uncovered by pipelined supply.
The latest CAG report observes that there remains inequality in distribution and supply. The per capita availability of water varies from 29 litre per capita daily (LPCD) in outskirts to as high as 509 LPCD in posh areas.
According to the report “the Delhi Jal Board has neither a proper system to measure the water supply to different areas nor does it have access to reliable data on population in different areas. It, therefore, cannot ensure equitable supply of water.”
In its election manifesto, the Aam Admi Party had promised to provide 700 litres of free water will be supplied daily to each household if it comes to power.
The report also highlighted that 24.8 per cent of the households in Delhi were being supplied water through tankers in the absence of pipe lines where the average per capita supply was 3.82 litres per day against a prescribed norm of 172
litres. Metering of water at consumer end was not comprehensive due to which, less than 40 per cent of water produced was billed during last three years
It further stated that the raw water available in Delhi at present is not sufficient to provide potable water to the whole population of Delhi as per prescribed norms. According to the Delhi Human Development Report-2013, the total water supply from all sources to the city in 2010 was around 845 MGD (million gallons water per day), including 745 MGD of surface water and 100 MGD of ground water. The total requirement in 2010 was 1080. Delhi has no water of its own and receives the supplies from Haryana and Punjab.
DJB sources said in the population living outside the network of water supply the board will press tankers for supply. But the freebee may end up not changing the scenario as a large number of them are yet to have DJB laid pipe network.