Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said he is not interested in doing politics over the water issue, and his objective is to provide clean water to citizens, as he announced the Delhi Jal Board’s decision to waive off the development charges and infrastructure charges for water and sewer connections.
Kejriwal, who also heads the DJB, said that earlier people were paying Rs 1,14,110 for a 200-metre plot and Rs 1,24,110 for a 300-metre plot for a new water or sewer connection, but now they will only have to pay Rs 2,310.
“Delhi government has decided today that for the new connection of water and sewer, people will have to pay only Rs 2,310. Earlier, thousands and lakhs of rupees had to be paid for a new connection. I believe that now people will start taking authorised connections. This step in itself will prove to be a big improvement in the water sector,” Kejriwal said.
His announcement came as the Delhi Jal Board is facing heat from the opposition, after the Central government, on November 16, released a study on quality of piped drinking water being supplied in 21 cities, including Delhi, with the tap water here termed “undrinkable”.
In its reaction, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party had said BJP-led Central government is “stooping too low by doing politics on water quality after they failed miserably in controlling air pollution in entire northern India”.
In the same vein, Kejriwal on Friday said his objective is to provide clean water to citizens of Delhi and not indulge in “dirty politics” over water.
“Those doing politics over water do not care about the quality of water in reality. When we took over, there were piped water lines only in 58 per cent of Delhi, now that number has gone up to 93 per cent. There were more than 2,300 areas with the supply of dirty water when we formed the government. We reduced the number to just 125,” he told the media here.
Kejriwal also said the Delhi government’s decision to waive off the infrastructure and development charges for the installation of individual water and sewer connections will reduce the quantity of non-revenue water in Delhi.
“Delhi is one of the cities which has a huge amount of non-revenue or unaccounted water because of residents resorting to illegal means for water. The reduced charges will also reduce the quantity of unaccounted or non-revenue water across Delhi, and people will start installing formal connections rather than connecting to the pipelines illegally.”
Houses will be counted amongst the mainstream network connections in Delhi and this will help in improving the efficiency of the whole system, he said.
Kejriwal said the Delhi government will bear the cost of all the infrastructural requirements like laying water pipelines.
“The Delhi Jal Board has taken many crucial decisions to reform the water sector in Delhi. It has been observed that many residents across different areas in Delhi do not have legal water connections in their houses.
“Despite the water pipelines in their areas, lakhs of households in the city have not installed water or sewer connections because of high installation, infrastructural and development charges. Residents resort to illegal means to connect to water pipelines but refrain from taking a formal water connection because of high charges,” he said.
He also said that his government had decreased the development charges for the sewer connections to Rs 100 per square metre from Rs 500 per square metre, but the individual charges were still high.
“Therefore, the Delhi government has decided to waive off the infrastructural and development charges… the Delhi government will invest in developing and fulfilling the infrastructural requirements like installing pipelines, water treatment plants, and pumping stations, etc. The Delhi government will make optimum utilisation of the taxes paid by the residents of Delhi to fulfil these infrastructural requirements.”
Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Raghav Chadha, meanwhile, claimed that the Central government report was fabricated and was presented to create an atmosphere in favour of the RO companies. He said the report was released by the Centre just before the hearing in the Supreme Court to create an atmosphere that quality of water was bad.
However, the Supreme Court on Friday declined to interfere with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order prohibiting the use of RO filters in Delhi and instead asked RO manufacturers association to move the Centre with their representation before any notification is issued.
The counsel for manufacturers association contended that the NGT has imposed a blanket ban, and RO water is used for many medical purposes and is especially useful in dialysis.
The court also directed the Centre to consider the representation from the association before passing any notification.