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How the AAP govt managed to keep its poll promise of free water

Nivedita Khandekar, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 31, 2013
First Published: 00:08 IST(31/12/2013) | Last Updated: 10:00 IST(31/12/2013)

On Monday, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government announced up to 20,000 litres of free water. The move can be traced back to April 6, when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader broke his 15-day fast against inflated water and power bills.

Kejriwal had ended his fast as part of the civil disobedience movement with an announcement of “up to 20,000 litres free water for all when AAP comes to power in November.”

AAP’s calculations – both then and now – were based on inputs from an NGO Citizens Front for Water Democracy (CFWD). In fact, Kejriwal had as early as March announced that CFWD would be guiding AAP in formulating the water policy.

Read: 20K litres of water free, but a litre more and you pay for it all

For what AAP called as ‘Life Line Water’, the calculations started with considering 17 lakh connections in domestic category from out of 19.5 lakh total Delhi Jal Board (DJB) connections.

While preparing the election manifesto, the financial implication was calculated as per 2013 tariff. For 700 litres per day per connection water free, the cost had been calculated as Rs. 370.1 crore with exemption for sewer charges.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal talks on a phone as he is seated to assume the office of the chief minister of Delhi in New Delhi. (AP Photo)

Up to 1000 litres per day per connection consumption, the bill was roughly Rs. 200 crore and for more than 1000 litre per day per connection consumption, the bill was roughly Rs. 300 crore.

Read: 10% tariff hike for those using over 20,000 litres a month

“This free water cost was to be off set by the DJB profit of around Rs. 450-480 crore in 2012-13,” said CFWD’s Sanjay Sharma.

Read: Water done, reducing power bills next on agenda for AAP

Incidentally, the Delhi Jal Board’s own calculations work out to approximately Rs. 118 crore. Said a senior official, “Of the 17 lakh odd connections, only 9 lakh fall into this bracket of up to 20,000 litre per month consumption.

Rest use water more than 20,000 litres per month.” The DJB considered the cost of average `109 per connection (109X12X9 lakh) to arrive at Rs. 118 crore approximately.

Read: Ailing Kejriwal delivers on free-water promise from home, Congress questions move

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