Last April, Arvind Kejriwal, then Aam Aadmi Party chief, had during his bijli-paani rally attacked the Delhi Jal Board over its ‘faulty’ meters, saying they led to inflated bills, and criticised then chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who was ex-officio chairperson of the water utility.
Cut to 2014, Kejriwal has taken over as CM — and DJB chairperson – and the jal board is on a drive to replace meters (working or not) in the city “for effective metering arrangement and reducing non-revenue water”. The only hitch: the replacements are the same ones Kejriwal had rejected.
HT could not independently verify if Kejriwal was aware of the order or if the DJB was acting in continuation of earlier decisions. Email queries to the CM went unanswered.
The DJB issued a notice this month for replacement of meters with ‘15mm AMR (automatic meter reader) /non-AMR meters’ in several areas. In many areas, work has either started or been completed while in some, it has not taken off at all due to protests by residents.
“These are the same meters Kejriwal had demonstrated against, made by the same company. Why is this being allowed when an AAP government is in place,” asked Saurabh Gandhi, general secretary of the United Residents of Delhi, a group of 946 RWAs.
Gandhi said that in response to the protest, a private firm carrying out the work for DJB had written to his RWA saying the jal board had placed an order for 120,000 AMR and 40,000 non-AMR meters last year.
Demonstrating how consumers were being cheated, Kejriwal had at his bijli-paani rally in Jantar Mantar last year blown air into a meter, which promptly showed a reading despite not being connected to a water source. An AAP release dated April 28, 2013 had said, “Over 3 lakh water meters have been installed by DJB so far due to which Delhiites are being forced to pay bills for water they are not even using.”