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HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014

Water meter policy in limbo, even as another HC deadline lapses

Jasdeep Singh Malhotra, Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, March 31, 2013
First Published: 20:56 IST(31/3/2013) | Last Updated: 21:49 IST(31/3/2013)

In spite of the Punjab and Haryana high court granting repeated deadline extensions to the Punjab government to frame and notify a policy to meter water supply, the local bodies department is yet to work out the modalities of the project.

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A year back, a division bench of chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and justice Mahesh Grover, while disposing of a civil writ petition filed by one Sarpreet Kaur, against the Chandigarh administration and Punjab and Haryana governments, ruled that the Punjab government should frame and notify the policy to meter water supply by June 2012.

Previously, the state government had apprised the state government that a committee of officers had been constituted to visit six regions of the state and offer suggestions after consultations with the urban local bodies.

"Thereafter, the matter will be put up before the council of ministers and a new water policy will take effect as per cabinet decision. The policy, thus formulated, is to apply only to urban areas," the government said.

The court had ruled that such a policy was required to be framed within two months of the orders passed on December 5, 2011. However, the order was not complied with.

On April 2, 2012, the court directed the state government to frame and notify the policy within three months. "It is made clear that necessary action in terms of this order and strict adherence to the time schedule will be maintained by state government," the court had ruled.

However, the government failed to complete the process and sought another extension. The high court again allowed the department to notify the policy by December 31, 2012. This deadline has also passed with the government failing to implement the policy.

The petitioner, Sarpreet, had moved the court in 2010 for issuance of directions to the government to immediately discontinue practice of providing unmetered water connections. She alleged that supply of unmetered water, independent of actual consumption resulted in misuse and wastage of the precious resource.

Sources said that the state government had circulated a draft of the water meter policy to the urban local bodies for obtaining approval from their respective houses. The Jalandhar MC has recently approved the draft.

The need for Water Policy
The Punjab and Haryana high court had directed the formulation and implementation of a water meter policy after a PIL filed in 2010, which claimed that supply of unmetered water, independent of actual consumption resulted in misuse and wastage. The Punjab government had agreed to work on the order only for urban areas. The draft policy states that a water meter shall be provided, installed and maintained by the consumer on his or her own cost after getting it tested from the civic body.

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