Arvind Kejriwal delivers on promise of free water in Delhi, but offers less than 700 litres

Written by PTI | Ghaziabad | Updated: Dec 31 2013, 03:57am hrs
Arvind KejriwalThe decision was taken at a meeting of the Delhi Jal Board chaired by Arvind Kejriwal (Reuters)
Within 48 hours of coming to power, the Aam Aadmi Party government today delivered on its promise of supplying free water of 667 litres a day to each household but tempered it with a 10 per cent across-the-board hike in tariff.

After an hour-long meeting of Delhi Jal Board chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Board CEO Vijay Kumar, however, told the media that consumption beyond 20 kilolitre a month would attract tariff for the whole usage.

The Chief Minister's office later disclosed that there will be a 10 per cent increase in tariff for those consuming more than 20 kilo litres who will be required to pay the full bill amount.

Officials said the increase is for various customers including the household connections, industrial and bulk consumers.

The much-vaunted scheme, which tops the 18-point agenda of implementation for AAP, will come into effect from January one and will immediately benefit around nine lakh households in the city. It covers those with metered connections.

"All domestic consumers having metered connection will get 20 kilolitres of water free of cost from January 1. No charges such as sewerage charge and water cess will be levied on beneficiary of the free water scheme," newly-appointed Delhi Jal Board CEO Vijay Kumar said.

He said consumption beyond 20 kilo-litres will be charged fully. In a tweet, the Chief Minister said today's decision will cost DJB Rs 160 crore a year and Rs 40 crore for the rest of the current fiscal.

People living in areas under New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Cantonment Board will not be included under the scheme. Officials said a decision on extending the benefit to residents of group housing societies will be taken later.

In another tweet, Kejriwal said "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"

The Chief Minister, who was unwell and skipped office, chaired the meeting of DJB at his residence in Kausambi.

In its manifesto, Aam Aadmi Party had promised to supply 700 litres of water free of cost daily to each household. 20 kilo litres of water will mean average of 667 litres of free water daily.

Currently, DJB has around 18 lakh domestic consumers out of which nine lakh have metered connection. The water agency has decided to launch an awareness drive to encourage remaining nine lakh consumers to install water metres and bring "accountability into the system"

"The consumer can use any quantity of water daily. But the total monthly consumption should not go beyond 20 kilo litres (20,000 litres) to avail the benefit," said an official.

He said Group Housing Societies have been kept out of the scheme as they are bulk water consumers.

Currently, DJB supplies around 800 million gallons of water daily in the city.

The official said a sizeable number of consumers have unauthorised water connection from where the agency does not get any revenue.

It is not immediately clear whether government will charge for water being supplied to over 1,600 unauthorised colonies across the city.