The inability of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to constitute a water consultative council has drawn flak from experts, who say policy-making, including tariff, should be left to an independent body.
As per the DJB act, a consultative council is needed to advise the board “on policy matters and formulation of annual and five year plans”.
Its job is to give expert advice on administrative, financial and technical matters; on matters related to the interests of consumers and issues affecting the environment among other matters.
However, sources said, “After the first such council was formed in 1998, the DJB has neither held any meeting nor announced a new body.”
Highlighting the need for such a body, environmentalist Manu Bhatnagar said: “Policies will affect other agencies such as Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Central Ground Water Board and construction agencies apart from stakeholders, citizens, etc. (So) policy decisions are required to be isolated from day-to-day issues.”
In 2011, during the hearing of a writ petition by a bunch of group cooperative housing societies over payment of service charges for water consumption, the Delhi High Court had also sought to know whether the DJB had constituted the water consultative council.
Judge Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, in his judgment on February 4, 2011, had said, “It appears that the grievances of the consumer against the tariff are to be made before the said water consultative council.” The DJB had not responded.
Commenting on the provisions of the composition of the council, Nitya Jacob, director (water) at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said: “For a city with 1.76-crore population, just three or four experts on environment and water are not enough. There is a need for a hydrologist or hydro-geologist and urban planner. You also need prominent citizens on the council; public representatives cannot be called true representatives.”
Despite repeated efforts, the DJB remained tightlipped over the issue.