While Punjab tops the country in over-exploitation of the groundwater as per the data shared by the government in Lok Sabha last week, the state has been dragging its feet on implementing a ‘metered water supply’ policy in its 143 towns. The said policy has been awaiting a Cabinet nod for over a year.
The state has over exploited its 76 per cent ground water followed by Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana states with 66 per cent, 56 per cent and 54 per cent over-exploitation of its ground water, respectively.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh recently called for an all party meeting to arrest the depleting water table problem. But in all this Punjab government is silent about implementing the ‘metered water supply’ policy in state.
As per this policy, every residential property in the urban areas of Punjab needs to set up a water meter. Metered water supply policy is non-existent in residential plots in all urban local bodies of the state. According to 2011 census there are 143 towns in Punjab, including 10 Municipal Corporations.
Experts claim that metered water supply is necessary not only for charging water usage but for conserving the ground water.
As per the present system, the houses up to 125 sq. yards are exempted from paying any water usage charges, while for other plot sizes the lump-sum nominal charges are levied as per the sizes of the plots.
“There are flat user charges Rs 210 and Rs 280 per month charges for 250 sq yards, 250 to 500 sq yards houses, respectively. And Rs 15.20 per unit for commercial units, but around 60 to 65 per cent of this amount remains pending towards the consumers,” said a senior officer in the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation.
“According to the new policy, Rs 2 was proposed per 1000 litres for usage of water up to 10,000 liters, Rs 6 per 1000 litres to charged for the usage from 10,000 to 20,000 litres, Rs 8 for usage 20,000 to 40,000 litres and Rs 10 per 40,000 and above litres of water, respectively,” said he, adding that commercial units will be charged Rs 12 for per 1000 liters.
Sources in the Punjab Local Bodies Department informed that policy regarding the ‘metered water supply’ is ready for the past one year, but lack of political will is not allowing to get it notified. As per this policy, every urban household will pay water bill as per the meter reading.
“Without metered water supply the, wastage of water cannot be stopped, but political leaders are not ready to take this argument just to save their vote bank,” said a senior official in Local Bodies Department, adding that Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the state in 2012 to supply metered water supply.
He said that water meters were also needed to regulate extraction of ground water.
A senior officer in the Jalandhar Corporation said that there were three lakh properties in Jalandhar out of which 60 per cent are less than 125 sq yards which are enjoying relaxation on water usage charges. Same is the case across Punjab’s urban areas, he added.
Superintendent Engineer (SE), Water Supply, Jalandhar Corporation, Kishore Bansal, said that unless the metered water policy is not there, they cannot force the residents for installing water meters. “We are getting water meters installed at the commercial properties as per the guidelines dated back to 2006 for such properties and their water usage,” he added.
According to NITI Aayog report 2015, Department of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Punjab, had supplied 24×7 metered water supply in 15 villages of three districts of Punjab including Ropar, Fathegarh Sahib and Mohali some years back and the results suggested that metered water supply had reduced the water wastage upto 30 per cent