Lt Governor’s Open Letter To Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi:

Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena has written an open letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in jail in connection with the liquor policy case, after a note by AAP minister Atishi to him seeking suspension of the CEO of Delhi Jal Board over a murder triggered by a water dispute in the national capital. “It has become habitual on the part of your ministers to blame officers for their own fault,” he wrote, stressing he had to write the open letter as “direct communication with you in present circumstances is not possible”.
He also accused the AAP government of deceiving the people by “creating a chimera of free water”. “Instead of fixing the iniquitous water supply, you and your ministers created a chimera of free water. Deception of people has been mastered into an art form by you and your minister,” he said.

The Aam Aadmi Party swiftly responded to the letter and accused the Lt Governor of encouraging officers to obstruct the work of the Delhi Jal board. “The Lt Governor is responsible for stopping DJB’s work. He encourages officers to do so. No action was taken against the officers despite repeated requests,” said Atishi.

The Delhi Water Minister had a few days ago written to the L-G, requesting for the immediate suspension of the CEO of Delhi Jal Board or DJB, as, she claimed, “criminal negligence has taken place under his watch” 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 light of this shocking incident of the death of a woman in Farsh Bazar following violence due to water shortage, Hon’ble LG is requested to immediately suspend the CEO of Delhi Jal Board within 24 hours as this criminal negligence has taken place under his watch,” she said.

Hitting back, Mr Saxena said Atishi indicted her own government by “underlining the inadequate supply of water as the cause of the incident”. “Atishi has ironically indicted her own government of more than nine years. Her note indeed is a prima facie admission of guilt, inaction and inefficiency over,” he added.

Detailing the crisis in numbers, Mr Saxena claimed that of about 2.5 crore people in the city, “more than 2 crore (over 80%) people are deprived of drinking water supply in varying degrees”.

“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 Lt Governor claimed.

Atishi, in her note, alleged “inaction” by officers of the Delhi Jal Board and claimed that “there has been a concerted conspiracy to stop the funds of Delhi Jal Board in the FY 2023-24”.

Rebutting her claim, Mr Saxena said, “Since 2015, Rs 28,400 crore has been spent as Capital Expenditure by DJB. However, according to the Economic Survey 2023-24, over the last decade, water treatment capacity has grown marginally from 906 MGD to 946 MGD, a barely 4.4 per cent increase.”

Mr Saxena, who is often at odds with the AAP government, took a dig at the Chief Minister’s promise to “transform Delhi into Singapore”. “It would be educative to know that in Singapore “unaccounted for water” is just five per cent, compared to Delhi’s 58 per cent. Even other Indian cities fare much better than Delhi – Chennai (35 per cent), Mumbai (27 per cent), Pune (35 per cent).

Unaccounted for water is a sum of water leakages by way of transmission and distribution losses, water theft and non-payment of dues.

He also alleged there was a stark difference between the water supply to affluent societies and to slums and unauthorised colonies. “The rich in the city staying in affluent colonies have round-the-clock water supply and get as high as 500 litres per person per day- which translates to nearly 35 buckets of water per person per day while in unauthorised colonies and slums, water availability is less than 50 litre per person per day,” he said. “Many of these settlements receive water supply for barely half an hour a day. In some cases, water is supplied on alternate days,” Mr Saxena added.

VK Saxena also alleged that seven per cent of households – an average of 20 lakh people, still do not receive piped water supply.

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