People living in 50-50 square yard houses have received bills ranging from ₹50,000 to over ₹1 lakh: CM Arvind Kejriwal

We are bringing scheme to waive off incorrect bills, but BJP has stopped scheme through LG: CM Arvind Kejriwal

NEW DELHI , 24 Feb, 2024- In a bold move against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s obstruction of the ‘One-Time Settlement Scheme’ aimed at alleviating the burden of inflated water bills on Delhiites, CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal took to the streets of Delhi on Saturday. Amidst his direct engagement with the local residents in the Govindpuri area of the Kalkaji assembly constituency, CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal assured residents of rectifying erroneous water bills. As he tore up an incorrect bill symbolically, the Delhi CM emphasized the Delhi government’s commitment to implement the scheme, despite BJP’s hindrance through the Lieutenant Governor.

CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal urged Delhiites to remain steadfast in their trust, assuring that regardless of BJP’s obstacles, relief would be provided. Encouraged by the CM’s reassurance, local residents echoed their faith in his leadership, emphasizing his pivotal role in resolving their concerns. Alongside the Delhi CM, local MLA and Delhi’s Cabinet Minister Atishi also stood in solidarity during this time.

During the interaction with local residents in Govindpuri, CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal said that since COVID, most people have been receiving incorrect water bills. “We have made water free. Still, if such high bills are coming, it’s wrong. I will waive all these incorrect bills. We are trying to bring a scheme to waive off incorrect bills, but the BJP people are stopping the scheme through the LG. The BJP people interfere in all our work. The BJP has a feud with me, why are they harboring such enmity with the people? They should let the people’s work be done.

The CM said that those who have received the wrong bills should not pay their bills, we are trying to bring the scheme as soon as possible. If the work cannot be done straightforwardly, then we will do it in other ways possible. The LG and BJP together have made the entire Delhi distressed. These people are making enemies out of the people of Delhi. There are 11 lakh families in Delhi who are troubled by wrong bills. This time BJP will not win. Strengthen our hands so that we can raise the voice of Delhiites in Parliament.

After meeting with local residents in Govindpuri, Delhi’s CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal stated, “I met so many people during my round of the entire lane, many people are receiving incorrect water bills. These people live in small 50 square-yard houses, yet they receive bills of ₹50,000 to ₹1 lakh, etc. This problem started during the COVID-19 times. During COVID-19 times many meter readers didn’t go for meter readings for months and made up fake meter readings from their offices. Because of this, incorrect bills started coming up, and the people didn’t pay the bills. And interests and LPSC (late payment surcharge) were levied further on the already inflated water bills, bills crept up to lakhs.”

“To address this issue, we have conducted a thorough assessment in the entire Delhi and have found out that approximately 11 lakh families are receiving incorrect bills. The bills of these many people can’t be corrected, it would take years to correct. So, we have brought a scheme to automatically correct the bills of those people who are receiving incorrect bills,” the Delhi CM said.

CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal further added that for those who have at least two okay readings in the last five years, the average of the two bills is considered. “If consumers agree and we agree, then we consider the average for all the months, and bills less than ₹20,000 will be waived off. As per our estimates, 90-95% of the consumers would get zero water bills,” he added.

The Chief Minister shared, “The people are forced to make rounds of the Delhi Jal Board. If one gives bribes then their bills are corrected, otherwise not. I would request you all those people who deem their bills incorrect. They don’t need to pay the bills; they can tear the bills. I’m here and I’ll get them corrected. We have brought a scheme to correct the inflated water bills, it would have corrected bills of the 90-95% of Delhiites. However, the BJP has stalled this scheme through the Lieutenant Governor’s (LG) intervention since LG is from BJP’s side. The BJP folks have stopped this scheme through bureaucracy’s interventions, this is deplorable.”

“This scheme is aimed at public welfare; hence the BJP shouldn’t be stopping this. The BJP has a feud with the AAP and Kejriwal, so why is the BJP taking their revenge on the people? Today I’m here to seek your support, help me in this. I’ll get this scheme implemented whether I’m forced to sit on a hunger strike or anything for that matter. The way I got all your work done from LG, this will also be done.” CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal concluded.

The CM tore up the incorrect water bill

CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal had a large number of people come to him with high water bills, some of which were over ₹1.5 lakhs. The CM said those who received the wrong bills should tear them up. “I will get it corrected,” he said. During this time, the CM symbolically tore up a bill himself and asked people to support the government in bringing a scheme.

*Should we educate our children or pay bills?

In the area of Govindpuri where CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal visited, there are mostly small houses. Even in most 1 or 2 BHK houses, people are getting very high bills. Some have bills of ₹20,000, some 50,000 some ₹70,000 and some even over ₹1 lakh. People said, “Should we educate our children or pay bills? In a 50-square yard house, bills of over ₹1 lakh are coming. How will we pay for this? When we go to the DJB office, no one listens.”

You bring the scheme, we are with the government: residents

Local residents told CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal that the government is bringing a very good scheme. People have requested the CM to bring the ‘One-Time Settlement Scheme’. “We want this scheme and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the government,” the people said.

“It’s a domestic water connection, but a commercial bill is coming: residents*

During the interaction with the CM, a local resident explained that they have a domestic water connection, but they are receiving a commercial bill. Their water meter is also running, but it is written on their bill that the meter is inactive. I even apply and tell them that the meter is active, but every time the bill comes with “meter inactive” written on it.

Electricity is being provided for free

During this time, CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal took information from local residents about whether they were regularly receiving the benefit of free electricity provided by the Delhi government or not. In response, people said that they are continuously benefiting from free electricity. They only have an issue with the water bill. People said that electricity is provided for free and is available 24 hours a day.

The ‘AAP’ government is doing very good work in Delhi: people

Residents told the CM that the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi is doing very good work. “We are very pleased with the government’s work. Our work is being done on time. We are only troubled by the water bills, but we trust you (the Chief Minister) to fix it so that water bills, like electricity, become zero for us,” the people said.

How Big is the Problem of Inflated Water Bills?

In Delhi, more than 10 lakh consumers (out of 27 lakh consumers) have arrears on their water bills due to which they have stopped paying their bills altogether as most people feel that their bills are faulty. The Jal Board is also facing huge losses due to non-payment of bills by consumers.

Why are Consumers Receiving High Bills?

Wrong punching of meter reading by water meter readers. Meter reading could not be done physically during Covid due to the lockdown. In the absence of physical readings of water meters, bills were being generated based on average readings (that is 25 usage per month).

Misconception regarding automatic applicability of the Free Water Scheme so if the people don’t get a bill they assume their bill is zero. Past arrears and Late Payment Surcharge (LPSC) are added to the current bills.

What is the One Time Settlement Scheme?

Under the OTS scheme, water bills of consumers who have arrears will be re-casted, as per the average reading of past years. Recasting will be done based on two categories:

• Set A: Consumers having functional water meters with a minimum of two OK readings over the last 1 year will be considered. In case, “OK readings’’ are not available for the last 1 year, then “OK readings” during the last 5 years will be taken into consideration.

• Set B: Bills of those consumers who do not fall under Set A will be recast based on “Neighbourhood Average” or the average of OK consumption of consumers living in that locality.

100% LPSC will be waived off for those consumers who opt for this scheme. Water bills will be completely waived for those consumers who have a consumption pattern of less than 20KL consumption.

How to Avail the Scheme?

The arrears in the bills will get automatically re-casted and the One Time Settlement Offer will be displayed on the water bill. To avail of this scheme the consumers will have to pay the One Time Settlement Offer that will be displayed on their water bill during the four-month period when the scheme will be in force. The consumers would also have to install a functional water meter, if not already installed. This will help bring all consumers who currently have dysfunctional meters under the ambit of DJB.

What are the benefits of the OTS Scheme?

The scheme is expected to benefit more than 10 lakh consumers receiving faulty water bills across Delhi. Consumers will be able to settle arrears by paying re-casted bills in one go. The bills will get re-casted in an automated manner. Therefore, customers will not have to individually get their bills rectified at the DJB Offices. All customers availing of this scheme will need to get functional meters; this will ensure that they come within the billing ambit of DJB. This scheme is projected to bring in 11.9 lakh people under the fold of DJB. The DJB is expected to unlock a potential of Rs 2500 crores worth of revenue. The OTS will provide relief to consumers as well as bring revenue to Delhi Jal Board.

Why is the Delhi Government unable to pass the OTS scheme?

The DJB passed this scheme in its Board Meeting dated 13th June 2023. The scheme was to be brought to the cabinet by the Urban Development Department, which is the parent department of DJB. The Finance Department refused to give its comments. Finally, written directions were given by the Urban Development Minister to the Urban Development Department to present the cabinet note before the council of ministers by 14th February. According to the Indian Constitution, GNCTD Act, and Transaction of Business Rules, only the council of ministers has the right to make policy decisions. So, if the One Time Settlement Scheme is to be introduced, then it has to be approved by the Council of Ministers. However, the UD department refused to put up the proposal before the Cabinet saying no comments were received from the Finance Department. Now the UD Department has given direction to the Chief Secretary to bring the matter before the Cabinet.

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