The BMC is all set to implement its ‘Water for All’ policy. But the conditions of an existing drainage system, to appoint licensed plumbers, and one connection for a group of 15 families have been opposed by slum residents and activists. Such conditions will only impede the policy and make it ineffective, asserted activists, who have asked for one connection for five families instead.
The Free Press Journal had reported the civic body’s earlier announcement of May 1 as the date for its implementation, but there is still no clarity on it. Additional municipal commissioner P Velarasu did not comment on the issue.
Currently, only BMC-mapped structures are entitled to a water connection. The policy was framed to provide connections to all the unmapped slums. It will try to improve water availability in areas such as slums on private or commercial land and illegal establishments that at present don’t get tap water. However, several terms and conditions put out by the BMC have worried the activists.
Sitaram Shelar, activist and founder of Pani Haq Samiti (Right to water campaign), said, “We welcome this policy but there are 150 slums, 55,000 buildings without occupation certificates with around 20 lakh residents who don’t have water connections. Earlier, too, the BMC had a policy that didn’t work out due to strict terms. We have demanded removal of some of the conditions like an existing drain network and licensed plumbers. Also one connection for a group of five families should be given instead of 15.”
In case of standpost connection, junior and sub engineers can do all the calculations; a licensed plumber is not a technical expert, activists said. They said it will only be a hurdle while applying for connection. If such strict conditions are not removed, this policy will not mean water for all, said licensed plumber Avinash Kaur, who works for Pani Haq Samiti; she signs for free for water connections.
Former opposition leader of the BMC, Ravi Raja said this policy has been announced with an eye on the upcoming civic election. “All have the right to get water, so no such strict conditions should be enforced,” he said.
Vinod Ghopal, the chairman of Fight for Right Foundation said, water connections are being taken in groups in slum areas. But in some slums, tanker mafia is active and does not allow residents to take connections. So conditions in this policy will further make it difficult for slum residents to get water.