The issue of water tariff and tariff of utilities raises some questions that must be addressed. Usually whenever tariff is raised, public opinion is forced to coalesce around rates with political sides taken thoughtlessly and with activists on either side jumping in to buttress a position already taken.
The original idea of a 10% increase annually was flawed and opposed by URJA as it was positioned around the generalized belief that prices should inevitably go up and that is somehow the way of the world. This position if at all justifiable should have been complemented with increased efficiency, conservation, better technology and better sewage treatment also as deliverables.
Taking the first for granted, to raise tariff, and completely ignoring the second makes for monopolistic opportunism and end up in bureaucratic ineptitude and wastage of public funds. Subsidizing through tax revenue to keep tariff low (both in water & Electricity) is nothing but inefficiency. Any Government can do that but it does not augur well for long development. It also signifies a lack of long term political vision from our political leaders who succumb to short term populism for votes without a plan in place to sensibly lead the people to a better understanding on resource management for future times
The freebie centered, povertarian politics in India does not consider an efficiency oriented delivery of major utilities. This is the reason why water and sewage infrastructure in Delhi remains archaic and centered around politics rather than on efficiency
The failure of the Government in ensuring significant development, commensurate with the problem, in Rain water harvesting among Delhi’s colonies and institutions is a telling example. As late as June 2017 the NGT was directing that the Government ensure RWH in All schools. We are far away from any significant Grey and black water recycling as well as protecting the Yamuna from being flooded by millions of tones of sewage and pollutants daily. Though some Municipal corporations have declared their area open defecation free it is not possible to ascertain how much extra untreated sewage (which was earlier leaching into the ground) will now be dumped into the river.
What cannot be explained is the slow or near absent rate of modernizing the water infrastructure, sewage & replacement of old and crumbling pipes. Equally disappointing is the lack of Government initiative in promoting innovative water recycling for communities and a host of other technologically intelligent and possible community initiatives that will bring residents together to truly enjoy water conservation, recycling and usage, instead of seeing it as a difficulty alone
The record of Delhi Government on water does not show up in a good light. The Government has failed to
- Ensure Behavioral change in water consumption through regular law enforcement
- Deliver water directly to overhead tanks and restrain the use of online boosters
- Penalize wastage and overflow from tanks by surprise checks and on spot fines
- Aggressively enforce RWH & replenish adequate ground water levels
- Prevent vote banks from openly thieving/looting water from pipes and regulating the same to provide water supply to impoverished areas under metering
- Carry out a massive citywide survey to bring all persons drawing water under Government record
- Have a record on Septic Tanks in unauthorised clusters.
An explainable rise in tariff is simple and does not require much intelligence except ordinary street savvy cleverness. A big leap in thinking on how we will manage water efficiently for the burgeoning population and need of Delhi requires an intelligent big think that the city leadership must bring into its imagination