In a major boost to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), the Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered compulsory metering of all water connections in the city.
The court said that if the DJB is not able to provide meters, the consumers would have to bear the cost of purchasing and installing them. The Jal Board has been claiming that it is suffering from the shortage of these meters. Both the brand and the standard of the meters must be those approved by the organisation.
However, it will be the DJB that will provide plumbers and mechanics to residents who need them, the court decreed.
“There should be 100% metering. Consumers should be asked to pay for the actual consumption. If citizens have a fundamental right to water, it is also important for them to pay for the water they use,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said.
DJB counsel Sumeet Pushkarna said that the order had come as a major relief for them as the Jal Board had been incurring major loses for almost six lakh houses in Delhi had defective or unmetered connections. These houses were just being billed from R150-200 per month based on an average consumption rate for any amount of water they used.
Pushkarna also interpreted the order to mean that non-availability of meter cannot be an excuse for non-payment of the bill or even paying an average constant bill. Now all these consumers will have to pay as per the actual consumption.
Ironically, the order came on a PIL filed by the Rajinder Nagar Welfare Association. The Association had wanted the court to issue a direction to the DJB to fix meters at their homes. They said that the DJB had no right to force them into installing the meters after buying them from the market.
Pushkarna then contended in the court that about 1,000 homes in Rajinder Nagar had defective meters and the residents had been refusing to replace them for years altogether and were insisting on paying the average bill.