New Delhi: The AAP government doled out nearly Rs 400 crore subsidy in 2017-18, up from about Rs 2 crore in 2014-15, to provide 20,000 litres of free water per month to the national capital citizens, DJB has informed the Delhi High Court. In an affidavit placed before a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has indicated that from Rs 1.88 crore in 2014-15, when the free water scheme was first introduced, the subsidy amount has increased to Rs 396.66 crore in 2017-18.
The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL moved by advocates Tajinder Singh and Anurag Chauhan challenging the free water scheme of the Delhi government. The petitioners have contended that water, being a fast depleting resource, ought not to be given away free in such huge quantities, especially when several areas of the city do not have water pipelines and depend on tankers for supply.
DJB, in its affidavit filed through advocate Sumeet Pushkarna, has indicated that the increase in subsidy is due to the increase in number of consumers which has almost doubled from 5.6 lakh in 2015 to 11.11 lakh in 2018. The scheme has also led to increase in water conservation as consumers have reduced their consumption to avail the benefit of the scheme, the affidavit has said. It has also contended that since the scheme was applicable only to domestic consumers, there has been an increase in the number of functional water meters as well.
“The number of functional water meters which was around 8.57 lakh in March 2015 has increased to 14.67 lakh in March 2018. Further, the number of unmetered water connections have come down to 1.58 lakh in March 2018 from 3.29 lakh in March 2015,” DJB has said in its affidavit.
The petitioners have sought setting aside of the Delhi government’s February 25, 2015 decision to provide 20,000 litres of free water to each household in the city and the subsequent DJB order notifying it on February 27, 2015. They have alleged that “the scheme was launched without conducting proper research with regard to production, recycling and supplying of water in Delhi”.