Consumers resign to fate, ready to pay more

Many people have begun using Delhi Jal Board water judiciously after the Aam Aadmi Party launched its scheme which allows 666 litres of Delhi Jal Board water free per household ever day. Under the scheme, water is free only if the household doesn’t go over the 666-litre limit. 

But consumers worry that soon she has to start paying hefty water and electricity bills as the subsidy on both is likely to end by March 31.

Delhiites also hope that the audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) of the accounts of power discoms may help in reducing electricity tariffs.
But the discoms say they have not asked for any rate hike in the next fiscal, 2014-15. “We are giving full cooperation to the CAG audit. Nothing is in our hands. We haven’t demanded any increase in tariff, only the regulator Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission can take that call,” a BSES spokesperson says.

After the fall of the AAP government, the fate of these two subsidies hangs in balance.
The revised budget for Delhi as well as Delhi Jal Board’s interim budget for 2014-15 do not have any provision for power or water subsidies. The Centre has made no allocation for continuing the water subsidy in the next financial year.

A non-profit organisation, National Platform Against Water Privatisation (NPAWP), says the water scheme started by the previous government in Delhi is at threat of being discontinued from the next financial year, starting April 1.

Under the AAP government scheme, people with metered connections in Delhi are entitled to free water of up to 20,000 kilolitres per month.

“It is quite strange that the DJB has put forward its demand to the central government to continue this scheme, but the government decided to do away with this subsidy,” national coordinator of the NGO S A Naqvi says.

“This indicates a disguised attempt by the central government to help private water operators and to push for water privatisation in Delhi. If the free water scheme, which is pro-public and environment friendly, is reversed, it will be a big blow to the fundamental human rights of people for access to safe water as well as a big setback to the much-needed positive steps towards water conservation,” Naqvi says.

Consumers have started bracing themselves for shelling out more for water. “For all practical purposes, the water subsidy scheme is going to end in March-end. So I am asking my family to use even less water as from April onwards we will have to pay heavy amount for it,” says south Delhi resident Rajesh Rana, who has a family for four.

A large number of people, who live in cooperative societies, say that the water subsidy scheme was implemented without taking them into account.

“In cooperative societies, people don’t have individual meters. The society has only one meter. So anyway we used to get a huge bill as the scheme says if you consume water above the limit (666 litres daily), you will not only have to pay for it but also pay 10 per cent extra on the total amount,” says homemaker Indu Mehra, who lives in a cooperative society in Mayur Vihar Phase-I.

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