For all the promise in the Aam Aadmi Party’s pledge to give 700 litres of free water to every single household in Delhi within 24 hours of its coming to power, it may find itself drenched in cold water when it comes to implementing the populist scheme.
700 litres of free water per household per day and a 50% cut in electricity tariff are two promises that catapulted the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to success in 28 assembly segments of Delhi. The million rupee question is, are these two promises achievable?
Only God and Arvind Kejriwal (the man with “anarchy in his eyes”, as Kapil Sibal put it) can answer that question. And it appears that after the AAP success, the people of the national capital — at least those who voted for AAP — consider Kejriwal only next to God. The Aam Aadmi hangs on to his every word as if they are gospel.
As far as free water flows, an AAP leader said on Thursday, “We are committed to fulfil this promise.” He had little to substantiate his case, though. He said Delhi supplies 200 litres of water per person every day, which is pretty good when compared to global standards. But he confessed that the problem was in the “distribution”. Most of this water never reaches the citizen, who is left high and dry.
It’s a daunting task (though some say it’s “eminently doable”). AAP should have taken this into account before it flooded the streets of Delhi with “free water” slogans. Now, with “taking responsibility” at the door, AAP is pointing to some caveats placed against it.
“We will have to work on a war-scale to instal water pipelines in areas which still don’t have pipeline network. Then there ‘s the water mafia. We will have to take strict action against the mafia and press Delhi Jal Board water tankers into service to reach water to places where there’s no pipeline network,” said the AAP leader.
Picking up tempo, he laid down some water levels for the Aam Aadmi. “Those found using above the 700 litre limit will be charged; those households found splurging over 1000 litre per day would be charged heavily. These steps will control wastage of water. We will also focus on rainwater harvesting,” he said.
The leader then stepped into another dry stream – that of bringing transparency to water management. “There is no data available at present on the amount of water treated every day. This will be corrected by installing bulk meters. People will get daily updates on how much water was sent to each zone. This will help know if water was diverted or misused.”
As per the 2011 Census, approximately 80 % of Delhi households get piped water supply. As of now, before the AAP axle starts to drive the government of Delhi from Saturday on, the Delhi Jal Board is supplying 835 million gallons of water per day to the people. Not all of that is piped water.
As much as 20% of the populace — mostly living in slums and unauthorised colonies — depend on water tankers for water, which is 40 litres per day per household.
It’s a fact that water finds its own level. But that’s assuming other forces (like wind or uneven surface) are not work. AAP should know the Delhi Jal Board is controlled by the MCD. The MCD is controlled by the BJP. The water-tanker mafia is entrenched. Daunting, indeed.
The promise of transparency
The AAP says Delhi supplies 200 litres of water per family every day — whch is good when compared to global standards. Distribution and water mafia were major problems, it said. The AAP has promised to bring transparency to water management.