Even as the Delhi Jal Board is undertaking work to bring unmetered areas into the billing net and has been conducting meter replacement drives in the city to ensure every drop is accounted for, a non-government organisation, Citizen’s Front for Water Democracy, has alleged that there is a discrepancy in the meter installation process and that the Jal Board is procuring more meters than required.
The NGO has alleged that the Jal Board is on a “meter replacement overdrive” and has been changing the meters “too frequently”.
“As per the DJB records, there are around 19,43,000 registered water consumers in Delhi, out of which 15,92,000 are metered and 3,51,000 without meters. Between 2009 and 2012, the DJB had purchased and installed 400,000 water meters in South and East Delhi, procured from multinational corporate i.e. Actaris India and Larsen & Toubro. Surprisingly, the DJB has again ordered for supply and installation of 7,49,400 more water meters. The requirement is only 3,51,000; why does the DJB need 14,29,400 water meters,” questioned NGO convenor S. A. Naqvi.
The NGO has also questioned the procurement of meters for areas such as Malviya Nagar, Vasant Vihar and Nangloi which are the pilot areas for undertaking public private partnership work, which includes metering and bill collection.
“Over the coming year and in the next financial year, the DJB plans (approved by the DJB Board) to procure and install another 6,80,000 water meters under the Chandrawal water works rehabilitation project and in the North, Central and South parts of Delhi, covering JJ clusters, resettlement colonies, villages and slums. We are questioning why 14,29,400 water meters are required for 3,51,000 unmetered water connections?” Mr. Naqvi said, adding: “This huge unnecessary purchase will add to the consumers’ tax burden.”
Seeking an inquiry into the DJB’s meter replacement exercise, the NGO has claimed that the “DJB plans to replace 18,29,400 water meters in Delhi, even as on April 2012 there are a total of 15,92,000 metered connections and only 3,51,000 unmetered water connections”.
According to the NGO, between 2008 and 2009, 100,000 meters procured from Actaris India were installed; in February 2011, 250,000 L&T meters were installed; in September 2012, 500,000 meters procured from L&T were installed; then again in August 2012, 32,600 meters from Degremont were procured which are yet to be installed in Malviya Nagar.
Another 380,000 meters from SPML are also yet to be installed in Vasant Vihar and Mehrauli project, while 500,000 will be supplied from L&T and 228,800 from Veolia Water will be installed under the Nangloi project.
DJB officials were not available for comment.