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Delhi govt announces waiver of water dues, late payment surcharge

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(Eds: With additional details) New Delhi, Aug 27 (PTI) Ahead of assembly elections, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday announced a complete waiver of water arrears for people living in colonies categorised as E, F, G and H while consumers of rest four categories will get a rebate from 25 to 75 per cent on their long pending dues. According to the government, consumers having functional meters by November 30 this year will be able to avail this scheme and as per rough estimate, over 22.6 lakh domestic water consumers will be benefitted. Announcing the Delhi Jal Board's decision at a press conference, Kejriwal said that Late Payment Surcharge (LPSC) will be completely waived in all the eight categories of colonies. The government has also announced a 100 per cent waiver on LPSC for commercial consumers if they have functional water meters by November this year. The move comes at a time when Delhi is scheduled to go for the assembly polls in early next year. The Delhi BJP termed the AAP government's announcement to waive water arrears a "lollipop" for Delhiites ahead of the upcoming assembly elections and alleged that half of the residents in the city were deprived of piped water supply. Delhi's colonies are categorised from A-H. Officials said A-D category colonies are considered as middle and upper middle residential areas. 'A' category colony include those in Maharani Bagh, Chanakyapuri and Golf Links. For 'A' and 'B' category colonies, 25 per cent rebate will be given on their principal arrears while in the 'C' category colonies, 50 per cent waiver will be provided on the same. In 'D' category colonies, people will get a waiver of 75 per cent on their principal pending arrear. Kejriwal said that arrears of water consumers have been pending for two to five years. "We are expecting to earn Rs 600 crore through this scheme. This is an attempt to clean our books (of pending dues). "The arrears have accumulated not just due to non- payment of bills but also due to the fault on DJB's part including in the billing system," Kejriwal, who is the chairman of the DJB, said. Asked about "injustice" to those paying their water bills on time, the chief minister said, "We do not have to go for another such waiver in the future." There has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of new water connections since the AAP has come to power. Unmetered water connections in the city have come down to 1.5 lakh from 3 lakh in the last five years, Kejriwal said. There are 1,769,981 water consumers in E to H category colonies, while there are around 3.44 lakh consumers in the D category colonies. The government said that in A to B category colonies, 70,082 consumers will be able to avail the scheme benefits while in C category colonies, there are 76,125 consumers. "The scheme that brings more households to the billing network along with the enhanced billing efficiency will improve the financial management of Delhi Jal Board," he said. The DJB now has achieved 95 per cent of the billing efficiency from 80 per cent and expected to increase the same to 98 per cent soon. "Our government has undertaken a major initiative - distribution of tabs for all meter readers enabling them to take photos with location identification," the chief minister said. PTI BUN AAR

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