A fresh start

However, this is one of the several moves that the CM has taken in the lead-up to the elections, to be held in February next year.

For those Delhiites who haven’t been paying their water bill, the CM’s latest move means all your current dues will be waived off. However, will this avoid such a situation from repeating? We ask the city’s residents.

When chaos reigns supreme, clean the slate. Or, at least, that seems to be what Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had in mind while announcing a one-time waiver of water arrears for residents of the city recently. Essentially, all pending bills until March 2019 will cease to exist, either partly (in the case of affluent areas) or completely (for middle-income and low-income localities).

Since the exemption is only valid on homes that already have functioning water meters, or those that will have them installed before November 30, the move is meant to encourage their installation; plus, from those localities that have part-exemption on arrears, the government will be able to recover a good amount of money. Sweet deal.

However, this is one of the several moves that the CM has taken in the lead-up to the elections, to be held in February next year. On this, resident of Jangpura (where the waiver is 75 per cent), Kuwar Singh, says, “It’s definitely timed well, but then again, everyone does things keeping the polls in mind.” He also says, “I do like the move. It will help structure things, and, more so, the ‘twist’ Arvind Kejriwal adds with the compulsory water meters makes this a smart move.”

Another resident, Rohan Jolly, who lives in Inderpuri (where the waiver is 100 per cent), finds this move slightly unfair to individuals who have been paying their dues well in time. “I understand that the government has no option, but the solution has to ensure that the billing is done properly henceforth and we do not have a fresh round of arrears. That will be difficult with the meters, but still, care must be taken,” he opines.

Jyoti Sangla, a resident of the posh Delhi Cantonment area, finds it concerning that people from affluent parts of the city have also accumulated arrears. “It’s just a thousand rupees or so every month. Why in the world would people not pay up? Even if the system is responsible, many people are avoiding payment. To give rich people 25 per cent waivers seems silly, but since they aren’t paying, it cannot be helped,” she comments.

Seema, a resident of Sainik Farms, which is yet another affluent colony, disagrees with Jyoti and completely welcomes the move, but she points out that “A fundamental flaw lies with how the residential areas are categorised. Like, places such as Jangpura and Sainik Farms are in the D category, while they are known for their rich residents. So that translates to a 75 per cent waiver. Perhaps it should be on a household-to-household basis.”

Whatever said and done, it will be good to see how the move pans out in the near future. Delhi is the second-most water stressed city in the world (as per The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit) just behind Tokyo, and effective water management is key to tackling that.

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