Make a splash, but for a fee

Published on Nov 25, 2006 03:30 AM IST

The government plans to crack down on luxurious use of water by limiting the amount of free water per house to 25 litres, reports Nandini R Iyer.

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None | ByNandini R Iyer, New Delhi

If you like the way your car looks after a good weekend wash, give it one long look this Sunday. The government plans to crack down on such luxurious use of water by limiting the amount of free water per house to 25 litres — every extra drop will come for a fee.

Since water is a state subject, the fee will vary from one state to another. But the Union Ministry of Water Resources is debating a uniform pricing mechanism for water.

Present rules require each state or municipality to recover only one per cent of the cost of maintenance and supply from users. Some states have enacted laws exempting farmers and some other categories from having to pay even this.

Though it is debatable whether states will agree to such a proposal, sources said a broad consensus on the issue had been evolved at a recent symposium called by the Ministry of Water Resources.

Though the symposium was called to tackle the issue of 'Ground Water Governance: Ownership of Ground Water and its Pricing', representatives from states, the Planning Commission and various wings of the Central government agreed that in addition to conserving ground water, it was imperative to evolve a uniform water pricing mechanism to act as a deterrent for wastage.

The 25-litre threshold limit was arrived at after a careful calculation. In a departure from the established norm, which suggests a minimum of 40 litres per capita per day (meaning, each person needs 40 litres daily for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing), the government wants its commitment to end at providing people five litres (three for drinking and two for cooking). So a family of four will be eligible for 20 litres of free water, plus an extra five litres to account for exigencies. Users will have to pay for the rest.

Though it is not suggesting what the price should be, the Ministry of Water Resources is likely to circulate a note to states to evolve a consensus on a uniform pricing mechanism.

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