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Water subsidy cut, free is history

delhi Updated: Dec 02, 2009 00:15 IST
HT Correspondent

The water tariff hike has ended the era of free water in Delhi. The revision in water rates has also abolished the existing monthly provision of 6,000 litres (initial consumption) of free water to every household.

The new rates mean Delhi government will have to pump in Rs 300 crore less into water subsidy, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said on Tuesday.

Announcing the new tariffs, Dikshit said even with the hike, Delhiites get the best deal compared with people in other metros. “We still have up to 66 per cent subsidy on water rates. This keeps the price of water here much less than in other cities. Certain things were becoming unviable, so we have revised the rates,” she said.

The government officially declared that those using up to 10 kilolitres (1000 litres) of water will have to pay Rs 82 — up from the existing Rs 52.

Consumption between 11 and 20 kl will cost Rs 180, up from Rs 82; the slab of 30 kl is now priced at Rs 470-up from Rs 187.

The charges for every kilolitre above 30 kl will cost Rs 25 plus sewer and fixed charges.

“This will help the DJB modernise its distribution methods,” Dikshit said.

If you consume 10 kilolitres, then the charges will be Rs 20 (at the rate of Rs 2 per kilo litre) plus Rs 50 as service charge and Rs 12 as sewer maintenance, amounting to a total of Rs 82.

According to government estimates, an average Delhiite requires around 160 litres of water per day.

“Subsidy in the water sector is a must in a third-world country. If the government doesn't subsidise something as basic as water, then why do we pay taxes?" said social activist Arvind Kejriwal, whose NGO Parivartan has been advocating water distribution reforms for years.

“They (government) have failed to bring in accountability and transparency in the water supply system.”

Delhi government also increased monthly sewerage charge for hotel, guesthouses, banquet halls, hospitals, nursing homes, shopping malls and cineplexes.

For up to 50 rooms, hotels and guest houses will have to pay Rs 2,000 monthly as sewerage charge while Rs 10,000 will be charged from hotels and guest houses having up to 100 rooms. Banquet halls will have to pay Rs 10,000 per function per site.