Moving swiftly to keep its poll promise of providing free water to every household in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government Monday announced 20 kilolitres of free water every month — it works out to 667 litres a day — to households with valid water connections and functional meters installed by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB).
As reported by The Indian Express earlier, this means only 50 per cent of Delhi’s population — the half that can afford to pay — may benefit from the AAP’s freebie.
The government also tempered the populist move by introducing a 10 per cent increase in tariff for those consuming more than 20 kilolitres who will be required to pay the full bill amount.
The decision was taken at the DJB’s first meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at his residence — he was unwell and skipped office on Monday.
As per the 2011 Census, approximately 80 per cent households in Delhi receive piped water supply — of the 33.41 lakh households, 27.16 lakh get piped water. The remaining 20 per cent are dependent on water tankers for daily needs. In all, there are only 17 lakh domestic metered connections in Delhi, which effectively account for just 51 per cent of the population.
“It is duty of any responsible govt to provide ‘lifeline water’ to its citizens. We may debate the quantum but can we argue against the principle?”
Kejriwal tweeted in the evening. He said the financial implication on DJB will be Rs 40 crore for the rest of the current fiscal and Rs 160 crore annually.
People living in areas under the New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Cantonment Board are not likely to be included in the free-water scheme.
Days before his swearing-in last week, Kejriwal announced that his government would fulfil the AAP promise of providing 700 litres of free water daily to every household “wherever possible” within 24 hours of assuming office.
Emerging from a meeting with Kejriwal on Monday, DJB CEO Vijay Kumar, who replaced Debashree Mukherjee hours after the new government took over, said: “All domestic consumers with metered connections will get 20 kilolitres of water free of cost from January 1. We will not levy any existing charges such as water cess and sewerage charge.”
In a statement, the DJB said: “Consumers consuming more than 20 kilolitres monthly will be required to pay the full