The Aam Aadmi Party government on Monday fulfilled its first big poll promise, allowing 20,000 litres of free water every month to all metered households from January 1 when a 10% hike in tariff will also kick in.
But there is a catch — and a big one at that — in the free water benefit. Those exceeding the limit, even by a litre, will pay for the entire quantity under the new tariff regime. Simply put, if a household consumes 21,000 litres, it will be billed for all the 21,000 litres, and not just the excessive 1,000 litres.
But the poor — those living in unauthorised colonies and slum clusters — will not get the benefit and nor will those who do not get the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) supply even after being part of the distribution network, such as Dwarka and Vasant Kunj. Also, the residents of the areas that are supplied water in bulk will not get direct benefit.
“Domestic consumers, having functional metres consuming up to 20,000 litres per month will be exempted from water bill,” DJB CEO Vijay Kumar said. “Those consumers with more than 20,000 litres usage will be required to pay the full bill amount as per the water tariff, which has been increased by 10%.”
An AAP statement said the party favoured optimum use and conservation of water. This “important policy issue” decision was taken at a special meeting of the water utility’s board at the Kaushambi residence of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in neighbouring Ghaziabad.
The CM, who was down with fever and an upset stomach, was forced to skip office but held meetings at his home through the day.
Free water is Kejriwal government’s first major policy decision after it was sworn in on Saturday. The next big-ticket announcement is expected about power tariffs and a possible audit of power discoms. The AAP, which made a winning poll debut in the Capital, has promised to halve power bills.
“This 20 KL free water includes waiver of charges for water, sewage and cess too,” the DJB CEO said.
The cost of ‘life line water’ was only Rs. 160 crore annually and just Rs. 40 crore for the January-March quarter of current financial year, Kejriwal, who is also the DJB chairman, tweeted later in the evening.