Subsidy on free water scheme may go soon
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government may remove the subsidy on its 'free' water scheme, while asking Delhi Jal Board to up its revenue ensure that targeted consumers continued to get the benefits.
The move half addresses the criticism that the government had made the free water promise to rake in the votes and was now using the taxpayers' money (Rs 250 crore a year) for the 'freebie'.
Currently, up to 20,000 litres of water per month is provided free to each household that has a functional meter. The catch, however, is that families consuming even a litre more than 20,000 litres need to pay for the whole supply.
To ensure that the beneficiaries (1.9 million households) of the free water scheme are not affected, Delhi Jal Board will have to generate revenue, government sources said.
DJB will have to sell cleaned-up waste water for horticulture purposes and produce electricity from bio-gas and fertilisers at sewage treatment plants.
DJB's vice-chairman and AAP MLA Kapil Mishra said: "It's feasible to remove the subsidy and still continue the free water scheme. We are in touch with various organisations for suggestions and solutions. We are looking at increasing revenue without burdening consumers."
A social organisation, Citizens Front for Water Democracy, too has a plan ready in this regard and will submit the same to the government soon.
The NGO had worked closely with the Aam Aadmi Party before elections when the party was preparing its poll manifesto.
Citizens Front for Water Democracy's creative head Sanjay Sharma said he has discussed the proposal with AAP's top leadership and it can be implemented in a year's time. "Each clean-up plant has a system to catch methane. We need to ensure we also have bio engines to produce power worth Rs 250 crore," he said. At one point, some power used to be generated at some treatment plants.
The Delhi Jal Board is already looking at selling 80 million gallons per day (MGD) cleaned up waste water to various government agencies for horticulture purposes at
Rs 7 per kilo litre. This will generate around Rs 100 crore per year.
Aam Aadmi Party's pre-election white paper on water said that the DJB loses around Rs 1,000 crore every year due to mismanagement and corruption. It has spent Rs 32,000 crore on water and sewerage services in the last 10 years, but nothing much has improved.
Of the 3,800 million litres of sewage generated in Delhi every day, 2200 million litres per day flows into the Yamuna through storm drains. It kills the river and Delhi misses out on potential revenue.
The Aam Aadmi Party government is also providing a 50 per cent subsidy on monthly power consumption of up to 400 units.
This benefits around 3.6 million or 90 per cent of the consumers.
The government has said even this subsidy (Rs 1,400 crore per year) will not be needed once the Comptroller and Auditor General submits its report on the finances of the discoms.