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‘Water for everyone, but not for free’

Sidhartha Roy, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 31, 2013
First Published: 00:23 IST(31/12/2013) | Last Updated: 00:25 IST(31/12/2013)

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has kept its election promise and announced that households with metered connections will now get 20,000 litres of free water everyday. The announcement, however, has received mixed reaction from Delhiites and experts.

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The free water comes with the rider that a household crossing the 20,000 litre mark even by a litre would have to pay the entire bill and that too at a rate hiked by 10% from January 1, 2014.

“AAP has cheated Delhiites and gone back on its promise. They should only charge for extra water consumed after 20,000 litres,” said OP Malhotra, President, Keshavpuram MIG Flats RWA.

Many people said that AAP had only promised 700 litres of free water initially and the clause of paying the whole amount post this usage was not announced clearly. “This is wrong and an unjust decision by AAP. Why didn’t they announce this clause properly while making the promises?” said PN Gupta, of the Gulmohar Park RWA.

“People will only now understand what exactly they have to pay as the message was not properly conveyed by AAP,” said Harvinder Singh, President, Lajpat Nagar III RWA.

While those with metered connections feel that they would now actually end up paying more, there are others who don’t even know where they stand. A large number of Delhiites, who live on rent, don’t have separate connections and don’t stand to benefit. Another category is of those living in cooperative group housing societies, which number approximately 4,000 in Delhi.

“This has no meaning for people living in group housing societies in areas such as Dwarka, Patparganj or Rohini. These apartments have bulk metres and no flat has individual metered connection,” said CK Rejimon, vice president, Dwarka forum.

“Dwarka is anyway dependent on groundwater and water supplied by tankers. We don’t want free water, we want equitable distribution of water in the city and are ready to pay a higher tariff for it,” he said.

Pankaj Agarwal, general secretary of Delhi RWAs Joint Front said that  the AAP government should first focus on improving water infrastructure. “Many areas don’t even have water pipelines. Equitable distribution of water is more important than free water,” he said.

Experts are also divided on the issue. “We welcome the decision, as it honours the article 21 of the article for right to life. The current announcement is on par with 135 litres per capita per day, which is the government norm,” said SA Naqvi, Citizen For Water Democracy.

(With inputs from Nivedita Khandekar)

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