In the first major decision towards fulfilling its election manifesto promise, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government on Monday announced to provide up to 20 kilo litre water per month (approx 666 litres per day) free to the consumers with functional metres.
“This facility will be available from January 1, 2014,” said Delhi Jal Board chief executive officer Vijay Kumar.
The government's decision, however, came with a rider that those consuming over this limit will have to pay as per tariff, enhanced by 10%, effective January 1.
The promise of 700 litres of free water to every Delhi household was made in the AAP poll manifesto.
The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) made the announcement after a meeting with Kejriwal at his private house in Ghaziabad near Delhi.
The cost of providing the free water would be borne by the DJB for the first three months.
The Congress, which is offering support to the minority AAP government, questioned the AAP's free water move, saying that since half of Delhi does not get water at all, Kejriwal should ensure that these households get water first.
"He had promised that all citizens of Delhi would get free water. But around 50% of Delhi does not get water at all. He should ensure that every citizen of Delhi gets free 700 litres of water per day," Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit told reporters.
Kejriwal, who is not keeping well, had skipped office and held meetings at his residence.
This is Kejriwal government’s first major policy decision for citizens after taking charge on Saturday.
The AAP had promised free water up to 700 litres per day for all households in its election manifesto and this along with the promise to cut power tariff by 50% had been a major draw for the citizens.
Kejriwal had earlier in March-April 2013 fasted as part of the civil disobedience movement against what the party called inflated power and water bills.
Earlier in the day, Kejriwal tweeted: “Running 102 fever since yesterday. Severe loose motions. Sad that I won't be able to attend office today."
In another tweet, the capital's new chief minister complained that he had fallen ill at such a time.
It was so imp to attend office today. We had planned the water announcement. God, bahut galat time par bimaar kiya.— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 30, 2013
Dr Bipin Mittal, who is treating Kejriwal, said, "The chief minister has been administered antibiotics to contain his diarrhoea and advised complete rest."
"He will rest for the day. As the day progresses we will see. He was very keen on going to the secretariat because he has very important announcements to make. I strictly advised him against going out," Kejriwal's doctor said.
Hours after he took the oath of office on Saturday, Kejriwal had reshuffled top officials. Delhi Jal Board chief Debashree Mukherjee was transferred to the Delhi Transport Corporation and Vijay Kumar would replace her.
As people lined up at his residence in Kaushambi, Ghaziabad with their applications, Kejriwal sought 7-10 days time to put a grievance redress system in place.
“I don’t want to give you false assurances. I will take the applications when we put a system in place to resolve the problems,” said Kejriwal.
Agenda for the week
Recent hike in the price of CNG will demand immediate attention as well. If the hike is not rolled back or subsidised, it may push up autorickshaw fares, which will not go down well with people.
Autorickshaw drivers form a sizeable chunk of the party's supporters and it can’t afford to upset them.
A decision on power tariffs is expected on Tuesday. Later in the week, Kejriwal, who made around 100,000 people take a pledge against taking and giving bribes at Ramlila Maidan on Saturday, will give out the number of the helpline to report bribe-seekers.