Citizens' forum demands continuation of AAP's free water supply scheme

On poll eve they prepare a resolution for all political parties, demanding extension of free water supply to all residents of Delhi and scrapping of PPP projects in the water sector

By Soma Basu
Published: Monday 24 March 2014

Households in Govindpuri slum fight over water from a Delhi Jal Board tanker that empties in minutes. The slum colony has no regular water supply or sanitation facilities. (Photo: Sayantan Bera)

Water activists under the aegis of Citizens’ Solidarity—Forum for Water and Sanitation (CS-FWS) have prepared a resolution regarding water availability in the national capital, which is to be given to various political parties in the poll fray for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The forum has welcomed Aam Admi Party (AAP) government’s decision to provide free water up to 666 litres/day/family. But its members expressed concern over discontinuation of free water from April 1.

The forum in a meeting organised last Friday said it would urge the lieutenant  governor of Delhi to continue providing free water facility as it is a vital human right. The forum also demanded that the present administration take necessary steps to ensure that the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) got the required funds to fulfil this commitment.

“The AAP government decision covered only those residents who enjoyed the facility of having piped water at their homes, leaving out all other residents mainly in resettlement colonies and yet unauthorized colonies. CS-FWS therefore, calls for immediate steps to provide free water to all,” said Viren Lobo, executive director of Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development who is a member of the forum.

The forum rejects the precondition that residents of Delhi, in order to enjoy the free water, would be required to have meters installed.

The opinion of the forum is that it is possible to have a single meter to measure the input of the water meant for the regulated distribution of water in a particular area. If the government thought that 666 litres a day was sufficient for all the needs, it is government’s duty to check the monitor the bulk supply and not waste it beyond that limit, said Lobo.

The forum would also appeal to the government that public hand pumps and piaos in all areas be revived and a policy decision be taken to allow people to dig hand pumps and bore wells for public water consumption. Pending installation of public taps for water, tankers be used on regular and daily basis for all those who do not get piped water, to provide them 20kl water at government cost.

The resolution has also demanded that government take effective steps to eliminate water mafia in slums and unauthorised colonies. There are some areas where household pipelines are laid but not connected with the nearby main pipelines carrying water for distribution. Not doing this is obviously benifitting the water mafia selling water at exhorbitant price to the locality. All such areas should be immediately provided water through main pipelines, said Lobo, adding that sale of water by private persons in such areas be made a punishable offence.

Call to strengthen DJB

The resolution also demanded various measures to strengthen the Delhi Jal Board. The forum said it is against privatisation in any form in the water sector at any stage.  Already, there are three PPPs in the areas of Nangloi, Mehrauli-Vasant Vihar and Malviya Nagar; the government must revoke contracts for PPPs and entrust the DJB with the full responsibility water distribution, said Dipak Dholakia, another member of the forum.

The forum has also invited all water activists to come together and help prepare a comprehensive Water Policy for Delhi as a model policy for large urban metros.

Aam Aadmi Party: Delhi Election Manifesto 2013

Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on social sector (Non-PSUs) of Government of Delhi

Ground water year book 2011-12: NCT Delhi

Who will pay for Delhi's water?: a study of the socio-economic and environmental implications of the Renuka Dam Project

Urban water crisis in Delhi: stakeholders responses and potential scenarios of evolution

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