Common man pays more for water despite poor service, he says

Aam Admi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday trained his guns at the Delhi Jal Board, alleging that the common man has had to pay more for water despite poor services.

Addressing a public meeting in Najafgarh, Mr. Kejriwal said water prices in the city have increased 18 times in the last eight years, making it hard for the average consumer to pay.

Household water bill

The typical household water bill in Delhi has increased from Rs.73 for 45 kilolitres (kl) in 2004 to Rs.1,355 now, he said. He accused Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who is the Jal Board chairperson, allowing the water prices to spiral.

He accused the water utility of misleading the masses and manipulating water generation, citing the example of the Sonia Vihar water treatment plant.

Mr. Kejriwal alleged the plant being run by French company Degremont shows its generation as 140 million gallons a day, although as per official data, the plant receives 90 MGD of raw water.

Jal Board clarifies

Mr. Kejriwal also raised questions about the way the Nangloi treatment plant is being operated.

“At the water treatment plant, the distribution and bill collection work is being done by French company Veolia. This company is provided the raw materials and free electricity by the DJB, yet Veolia charges DJB Rs.14 per kl for its services. When DJB was running the plant, the cost of operation was as low as Rs.5 per kl,” the social activist charged.

Addressing the people, Mr. Kejriwal said water and electricity prices have increased on account of “increasing corruption in Delhi”.

The DJB has, however, clarified that the points raised by Mr. Kejriwal are inaccurate and misleading.

“ Mr. Kejriwal has stated that the Sonia Vihar water treatment plant receives 90 MGD of raw water and produces 140 MGD of treated water. In reality, the Sonia Vihar water treatment Plant receives 270 cusecs (more than 140 MGD) raw water from Uttar Pradesh. This can be independently confirmed by the U.P. Jal Nigam and Tehri Hydro Power Project, where 300 cusecs storage capacity has been created for Delhi. However, pending the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for Sonia Vihar on account payments are being made to U.P. for 90 MGD, based on the existing agreement for the Bhagirathi WTP [Water Treatment Plant],” the Jal Board has said.

It has also denied that the Jal Board will pay the contractor for the Nangloi project more than what it costs DJB to produce and supply water.

Cost of water treatment

“The treatment of water costs Delhi Jal Board Rs.15.43 per kl. This includes the cost of bulk water, power, treatment cost, distribution, interest on loan and depreciation thereof. The contract awarded for Nangloi, through an open and transparent bidding process, is at the rate Rs.14.99 per kl billed and collected. This includes all operation and maintenance costs [excluding power and raw water] and return on investment of 30 per cent of Rs.458.54 crore required to extend piped water supply to all households in the service area and maintain continuous supply with pressure to reach up to the third floor,” the water utility has claimed.

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