LG slams Kejriwal Government for water woes in letter

| | New Delhi
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LG slams Kejriwal Government for water woes in letter

Wednesday, 17 April 2024 | Staff Reporter | New Delhi

Amidst the rift between AAP-led Delhi Government and the Raj Niwas, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena on Tuesday implicated the Kejriwal Government over the water woes in the national Capital that has also led to killing of consumers and hostilities between neighbours and colonies. In an open letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who is in jail and a direct communication in  present circumstances is not possible, the Lieutenant Governor said there has been no effort whatsoever during the last 10 years for plugging the leaks but the Delhi government seem to be spending thousands of crores in pumping water “into a leaking bucket”.

Saxena said more than two crore (over 80 percent) people are deprived of drinking water supply in varying degrees, especially in unauthorized colonies, slum clusters and to a lesser extent, even in organized developed colonies and seemingly, 10 years of inaction have resulted in thousands of crores of tax-payers money going down the drain.

Atishi hit back at Saxena over the open letter, holding him responsible for the stoppage of Delhi Jal Board (DJB) works. The Delhi water minister had a few days ago written to the L-G, asking him to suspend the CEO of Delhi Jal Board (DJB) after a woman was killed following a quarrel with her neighbour over fetching water from a common tap in the Farsh Bazar area of northeast Delhi.

In the note, Atishi urged Saxena to "institute an independent enquiry into the acts of omission and commission of the chief secretary, as well as officers of the finance department, urban development department and DJB".

"I was deeply distressed at the insensitive communication from the Minister for Water... Atishi on Sunday. While I was yet to receive the letter, it characteristically found its way on various social and mainstream media platforms, the moment it was signed. She has chosen to use the unfortunate death of a woman in East Delhi for narrow and partisan political goals," he charged. "Her note indeed is a prima facie admission of guilt, inaction and inefficiency over the past almost 10 years," he said in the letter.

 “ In the last nine years , Rs. 28,400 Cr. has been spent as Capital Expenditure by the Delhi Jal Board which is also indulged in a scam involving AAP leaders. The accumulated loan and interest liability of DJB stands at a staggering Rs 73,000 crores. Preparation of the annual statement of accounts is a statutory obligation under section 70 of the Delhi Jal Board Act 1998. Non preparation of balance sheets and avoiding CAG audit appears to be part of a design to escape public accountability,” read the letter.

The Lieutenant Governor further said that the rich in the city staying in affluent colonies have round the clock water supply, as high as 500 litre per person per day- which translates to nearly 35 buckets of water per person per day. “ On the other extreme are poor people in slums and unauthorized colonies, barely receiving a trickle. Many of these settlements receive water supply for barely half an hour a day. In some cases, water is supplied on alternate days. Water availability is less than 50 litre per person per day in poor colonies, even as, you and your Ministers kept making false assurances of giving 24x7 water supply. In effect, while you promised free water to poor, they ended up getting no water”.

He said it would be educative to know that in Singapore, “unaccounted for water’* is just 5 percent, compared to Delhi’s 58 percent. Even other Indian cities fare much better- Chennai (35 percent), Mumbai (27 percent), Pune (35 percent). By contrast, Delhi has seen an inexcusable decline from 45 to 58 percent. It simply points to the fact that there has been no effort whatsoever during the last ten years for plugging the leaks and we seem to be spending thousands of crores in pumping water “into a leaking bucket”.

The LG said  the deplorable quality of water supply reaching people’s home has major health consequences. After spending thousands of crores from the public exchequer, the water in residential areas is contaminated with sewage.

“In many instances, people, mostly poor, who are unaware of the bad water quality, end up falling sick. The extent of water borne disease- diarrhea, dysentery and cholera adds up to huge out of pocket expenses for the poor. Last year, there were 34,979 cases of acute diarrheal disease, which was a 23 percent increase over the previous year. There were 23.423 cases of typhoid, which was a 52 percent increase in a single year. Hepatitis A cases shot up bv 89 percent. Poor water quality impacts people living on the margins of society most adversely. This reflects the priority that government accords to the poorest of the poor”.

“Your Ministers are perpetually busy addressing Media, spinning falsehoods. Daily multiple press conferences, making wild allegations and filing court cases against all and sundry seem to be the primary job of your Ministers at the cost of governance. They barely find time to attend public grievances and official work. Had even a fraction of their time been used for productive activity, the situation w,ould not have been so grim”.

“This is not an isolated instance, where a Minister has publicly berated senior officers, without a proper authentication of facts. On the smallest provocation, they decide to seek the suspension of officers who have put in more than three decades of service.. This appears to be a deliberate attempt to w'eave a one-sided public narrative with an aim to mask their own failures”, read the letter.

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