Even before the cry against hike in power tariffs had died down, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on July 3 dropped another bombshell, which is likely to lead to rise in water prices. She said privatisation of water distribution system has become necessary and the government has decided to privatise water across the national capital. “People must be made to ‘pay for every drop’ of water they use so that they know the value of the scarce resource,” she said.
Clearly indicating that the water tariff may go up she said: “Privatisation of water distribution is definitely necessary in Delhi. We want to replicate the same model in Delhi Jal Board (DJB) that we have used in the privatisation of power distribution.”
A Board meeting of DJB in November last year had decided to involve private sector in water distribution, management and maintenance in Malaviya Nagar, Vasant Vihar and Nangloi areas under public-private partnership mode. The government also initiated reform in water billing and installation of meters by involving IT major TCS.
Leader of Opposition Prof VK Malhotra termed the move to privatise water as “a cruel joke with the people of Delhi”. He alleged that there seemed to be a “method in the madness” in the move since it was meant to help the “water mafia” and its supporters.
“The water mafia will not only hike the charges, but will also systematically grab the land worth hundreds of crores belonging to DJB. The decision to privatise the distribution and management of water is a betrayal of the common citizen and will lead to chaos and law and order situation,” he said adding that the BJP would strongly oppose it.
Delhi has been grappling with severe water shortage mainly due to huge gap in demand and supply and leakage in water distribution network. The current average demand of potable water here is around 1,100 mgd per day and the DJB supplies around 800 mgd water. However, 40 per cent of this water is said to be wasted away. The Chief Minister herself is chairperson of the DJB. Now handing it over to private parties proves her total failure.
Delhi BJP President Shri Vijender Gupta appealed to all citizens of Delhi to unitedly oppose the privatisaton of water supply and warned that they may have to face even worse situation for water also as they are facing for electricity.