Citizen Memorandum to all political parties in Delhi on Water & Sanitation Imperatives of manifesto

Citizens Solidarity

Forum for Right to Water and Sanitation

Basti Vikas Kendra, F Block, New Seemapuri, Delhi 110095

Contact: Devendra Kumar, President(9250878059), Depinder Kapur, Convener(9711178181)

Date: 26th Jan 2015

Subject: Memorandum for inclusion in your Party manifesto, Delhi Assembly Elections 2015

Dear Sir/Madam,

Drinking water and sanitation is a major priority for residents of Delhi. There is no concrete commitment from any political party as yet in terms of norms, investment, pricing for water and sanitation, or what the elected government will do to ensure improvements in water supply, sanitation and cleanliness of Delhi. The slogan of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is an empty slogan if the political parties are not willing to listen to the demands of the residents of poor and slum settlements of Delhi and commit to providing basic sanitation and water services as a Fundamental Right.

In unauthorized colonies like Sonia Vihar, Sangam Vihar and Bhalswa, the DJB does not provide piped water or any sewerage services. Residents of Sonia Vihar have been unable to obtain water connections despite repeated representations to the DJB and the Delhi Government. In some resettlement colonies like Savda Ghevra, where evicted slum dwellers have been resettled by the government, there is no provision for piped water supply), no provision for sewerage system and people are expected to use public toilets that are non functional or in poor condition. The Delhi government’s commitment to providing potable water to the vast population of Delhi living in JJ colonies, Unauthorized and Resettlement Colonies, is almost entirely met by water tankers, or from borewells dug by individuals, private contractors and the mafia.

In Bhalswa JJ colony, situated next to the Bhalswa Landfill, the largest open landfill site of Delhi, although groundwater pollution is very high, in the absence of piped water supply and an unreliable tanker water supply by the DJB, people to perforce use polluted ground water for drinking in many instances. In the Savda Ghevra Resettlement colony, groundwater is contaminated with a high level of solids (TDS), making the water hard and undrinkable. In the south Delhi slums, there is no groundwater at all, since there is no recharge from the Yamuna or from any canals as is the case in west, east and north Delhi. In Sonia Vihar, where people have paid huge amounts for laying pipelines for water and face high monthly bills of Rs 500 -1000, the water is of such poor quality that it needs to be boiled before use.

The fact is that the poor end up paying exorbitant amounts for their water, a Human Right, is treated as their “willingness and ability to pay” by the government and private sector who try to show that people in poor colonies pay more for water than richer areas. Hence it is appropriate to increase the water tariffs for all, to invite private businesses to operate water and sanitation services for profit.

Lack of sewerage systems and poorly maintained pubic toilets is a major concern in Delhi slums and unauthorized colonies. Even resettlement colonies set up by the state government do not have sewerage systems. People are defecating in the open and forced to making expensive investments in septic tanks as basementfloors of their small 12 square foot houses. Not only is it expensive to construct and pay for regular cleaning, low cost poorly constructed basement septic tanks eat away the foundations of the houses.

Delhi was once a city of public water points, called piaos, with these water points scattered all over the city to enable the poor and working class people to avail of a free source to quench their thirst. Almost all the public water points have now been removed. Even the charity piaos in front of people’s homes to give free water to people, have been dismantled by the DJB.

Considering all these issues, we had conducted a survey in 2014, to assess the current drinking water demand and sanitation-drainage by unauthorized colonies and slum residents of Delhi. A report of the key findings and demands of the study is enclosed as Annexure A of this letter.

A study of the terms of water privatization in Delhi, in the form of the 3 PPP contracts in Nangloi, Malviya Nagar and Vasant Vihar, that the DJB formalized in 2013. Asummary note of key findings of this study are also enclosed in Annexure B of this letter.


  1. A Delhi Level Policy –
  • Ensuring water and sanitation provision as a state responsibility and a fundamental right of every resident of Delhi and not just a right to choose between different service providers; not an aggregate right for all residents but a right for each and every resident of Delhi.
  • Delhi does not need any additional water from any other external source, including the Renuka waters, beyond what is currently available provided it is used, along with internal sources, wisely.
  • 100% treatment of sewerage and other liquid waste generated.
  • Decentralised water harvesting and wastewater recycling should be an integral part of any sustainable urban water plan
  1. Blueprint and budget for providing household level sewerage connectivity to all residents of Delhi by 2016, irrespective of their residential status (slums, unauthorized colonies, etc.).
  2. Operation and maintenance of public toilets in bastis should be the responsibility of the government. Women caretaker provided for for womens toilets and provision of water, electricity and a guard for all public toilets.
  3. Supply of 20KL/family/month water and sewerage connectivity free. Requirement for larger sized families may be   pro-rata to this norm.
  4. Drainage and solid waste management to be ensured by government appointed full salaried basti sweepers and not contractual low paid workers by MCD, allotting reasonable work and allocating them materials for cleaning is government responsibility.
  5. Suspension of privatisation initiatives and initiation of a referendum on privatisation and PPP projects asking people to vote on whether they want this or not
  6. Suspension of wasteful DJB investments in construction of District Metering based water supply systems of underground reservoirs and related infrastructure.
  7. Suspending the wasteful new privatisation based electronic metering system.
  8. Public toilets to be built and maintained by the government for all slums and unauthorised colonies. If management is handed over to the slums, the government should pay the localcommittees for salaries and maintenance of the public toilets.
  9. Strengthening the DJB. Filling vacant posts, hiring appropriate new staff for operations and maintenance and grievance redressal of complaints.
  10. Time bound plans to ensure Roof Rainwater Harvesting for all buildings: government, institutions, malls, embassies, multiplexes, airports, bus depots, hotels, flyovers, etc.
  11. Stoppage of fresh water supply from state utility to bottled water plants, golf courses and other such water intensive industries
  12. Management committees comprising of 50% non government members, for each Sewerage Treatment Plant(STP), CentralEffluent Treatment Plant(CETP), natural drain and nallas – based on distance and population criteria(every 5 km length of drains and 1 lakh population of STP/CETP population.
  13. Protection of Delhi Ridge, Yamuna floodplains and water bodies from diversion to other uses.


Devendra Kumar(President)

Depinder Kapur(Convener)

Enclosed:  Annex A and B

Annexure A

Assessment of the impact of the Delhi government decision

for poor settlements of Delhi from a Rights Perspective

A survey in 2014, to assess the current drinking water demand and sanitation-drainage by unauthorized colonies and slum residents of Delhi, and the impact of the Delhi government decisionin January 2014 on the announcement of free water and sanitation services up to a certain lifeline water usage. This work was undertaken as part of the joint civil society initiative to assess the impact of the Delhi government decision toprovide free water and sanitation services up to a certain lifeline water supply norm.

In all 12 bastis settlements were covered with a simple questionnaire based survey of 10 residents in each slum.

Areas surveyed:

East Delhi:            Sundarnagri, Seemapuri, Kalindi colony, Welcome colony, Harsh Vihar, Chand bag, Janta Colony

North West Delhi:    Bhalaswa, Nand Nagri

South Delhi:              Dakshinpuri, Madangiri, Sanjay Camp

South West Delhi:   Bharat Vihar/Dwarka

The survey addressed the issues of water quantity use and expected impact of the 20Kl/month/connection free lifeline water ad related sanitation as a Right. To understand if this quantitative norm met the with the water use and demand of the poorest residents of Delhi and seek a response from the residents if they welcomed this decision or not. It also assessed related issues of water quality, status public toilets in bastis and drainage issues. Women respondents formed the majority of the surveyed. People were also asked what they wanted in terms of improvements in public toilets, if they were willing to pay for water and sanitation instead of the free entitlement. Income levels of the respondents were also noted.

This is perhaps the first independent survey that takes feedback from the some of the poorest residents of Delhi, post the radical announcement of the Delhi government to provide 20Kl water per month per household and the associated sewerage services free to the residents ofDelhi who have a water connection.

Key Findings

Most people residing in the bastis surveyed were daily wager workers in construction and in small manufacturing, retail and related works. Average salary of a single earning household is only Rs.5000 to Rs.7000 a month. Given the high inflation rate of all essential commodities, any price increase impact of water and sanitation services is felt the most by this segment of citizens of Delhi.

  1. Quantity of water used and likely impact of the free water decision

The basis of declaring 20Kl water/connection/month for a household was questioned by many people – whether this quantitative norm is in gross excess of the prevailing usage of the poorest category of waterusers of poor residents of Delhi. Whether it is below the current and future usage norm of a slum household.

The survey found that only in three out of the 12 bastis( Harsh Vihar, Chand Bagh and Sundar Nagri), majority of the households have toilets, on account of water available from either DJB pipelines or from private submersible pumps. In the rest of the nine bastispeople do not have individual toilets. Water usage it therefore higher in bastis with toilets.

Water usage is for different purposes in poorer settlement versus middle class colonies. Quantity of water used also differs accordingly. Washing of clothes is the largest demand on water, followed by toilet use, bathing, house cleaning, water for cooking and drinking. This reflects the predominant nature of manual or physical employment of the residents of bastis and their higher water usage. Water usage in summer is nearly double the amount used in winters. Hence respondents were asked to provide an estimate of quantity of household water usage separately for in winter and summer.

The survey found that on an average a family size of 5.4 members with toilet facility at home, consumes 450litres/day at a percapita consumption of 80lts/person/day. A household of 5.4 members not having a toilet, consumes on an average 300 lts/day or 55lts/person/day. This estimate is for summer months.

Water usage for an average household is a factor of family size, current water availability, storage capacity of the households, toilet in the house. Currently most bastis do not get adequate water. If more water is available easily with home connections, water usage will rise. While the average family size in this survey was 5.4, there are many households with a larger family size.

While working on a minimum cap for household water consumption it is therefore advisable to take an upper level of water use that incorporates all variables.Hence the decision byDelhi government to declare free water of 666lts/day/household for a familyunit of 6 members – is required for ensuring right to water and sanitation is met.

  1. What people are paying for water now

In many bastis of Delhi, water is not paid for by the residents, where it comes from connectivity with DJB water mains, daily water supply by DJB water tankers and DJB borewells and other private arrangements by residents.The survey found that people pay anywhere between Rs. 30 to Rs.300/month for water, when DJB water supply is not there. Willingness to pay is therefore an expression of denial of service and should not be interpreted for determining the price of water and sanitation services.

In this survey a large number of respondents said that they cannot afford to pay for water. While some said that they are willing to pay if better services are provided.Connection charge for getting DJB water connections is very high, in some cases as high as Rs.20,000.

  1. Do you want a water meter

Some people are wanting a water meter as it will help them in knowing their water consumption. Some do not want a water meter because they cannot afford to pay for water if it ismetered and billed to them. There could be other reasons for wanting a water meter – it gives legality/proof of residence to residents of bastis and unauthorized.

  1. Water quality

In bastis where some pressure was put in the past few years to ensure DJB pipelines are laid and water connectivity improved, only in these areas people express full satisfactionwith the quality of water supplied.In other bastis, most residents are not satisfied with the quality of water that they receive now.  Water quality worsens in summer months.

  1. Response to the Delhi government decision on free water

Most residents are happy with the decision of 20Kl/month/household free water and associated sanitation services, they are not willing to pay for water if that is given as a choice.

  1. Public toilets 

Where individual toilets are not there on account of sewerage systems not being place, people prefer to go out and defecate in the open. Instead of using public toilets.Almost all the residents are concerned about the poor status of public toilets in the bastis. In terms of its infrastructure, cleanliness, safety and high user fee.

Currently the users of public toilets pay Re1/woman/use and Rs.2/man/use. This amounts to a significant user fee per family. It was found that families pay from Rs.30 to Rs.120/month/family for usage of community toilets.

When asked what was the reasonable amount they were willing to pay for public toilets usage, the response was Rs.50 to Rs.60/month/family. Like water, willingness to pay for toilets is an expression of denial of services.

Absence of sewerage lines,small houses with little space for individual toilets, poorly maintained public toilets – these conditions compel people to respond that they are willing to pay for toilet usage. However this response should not be interpreted as willingness to pay. People are willing to pay for water and sanitation only if the service provided is of good quality, there is no corruption in terms of inflated billing.

Almost all residents said the responsibility of operation and maintenance of public toilets in bastis should be the responsibility of the government. The demands made for public toilets include;

  • Women caretakerfor womens toilets
  • Provision of water, electricity and a guard

The status of public toilets and its improvement emerges as a major concern.

  1. Drainage of waste water and storm water

Almost all residents are unhappy with the sweeping of streets and cleaning of drains in the bastis.People are not willing to pay for sweeping and cleaning of drains. They say that government is already paying a sweeper to clean the drains but they do not do their job.

Concluding remarks:

  1. People do not want 24×7 water and are not willing to pay more for this, they only want adequate water of good quality.
  1. Willingness to pay is often a subjective assessment. If you ask anyone who currently is not getting adequate, good quality water, he/she will want this service and will be willing to pay for it. This does not mean that they have the ability to pay.  Willingness to pay is therefore an expression of denial of service and should not be interpreted for determining the price of water and sanitationservices. Willingness to pay must be seen separately in terms of;
  • what is a fair payment for water and sanitation services that a government should charge considering its total revenues and social responsibility to right to water and sanitation, and not simply the cost and revenues of water and supply services,
  • what is the amount that the poorest people can afford to pay.

Pricing of water and sanitation services should be based on the above analysis. It may mean that payment if any for water and sanitation services, may only be very minimum payment that is not related to the recovery of O&M cost of service provision, but is more of a social cost recovery for a right to water and sanitation, involving cross subsidization across rich and poor consumer categories and across different economic and social costing for a given administrative unit.

  1. Experience of ActionIndia where basti women were offered the choice of managing public toilets in the bastis has shown that it is not viable for the women to manage public toilets and recover all the O&M expenses from user charge. The municipality should bear the following expenses; Electricity, Water, Regular maintenance of assets –  walls, roof, doors, floor toilet pans and other fixtures.
  1. The survey found that sweepers are employed by the municipalities on contract with low pay. They are handed over the task of cleaning more than one basti and hence cannot come to each basti every day. The sweepers are not paid separately for brooms and cleaning detergents, this is now merged with their salary. It leads to a situation where brooms and cleaning agents are not available. Hence payment of full salaries to basti sweepers, allotting reasonable work and allocating them materials for cleaning is government responsibility.

Annexure B

Water Privatization in Delhi

Firstly, all the conditions required for private operator interest in privatisation were put in place before the PPPs were awarded. These included a 300% hike in water tariffs, massive investments in pipelines for distribution and for underground storage for the designated zone wise privatisation under District Metering Areas(DMAs) and a freeze on DJB employees recruitment.

Secondly the PPP contracts have been so drafted that they minimise the risks of the private operator. An artificial division is made by the DJB for its financial accounting purposes to award the PPPs. Water supply costs them Rs.8.95/KL while sewerage and sanitation costs themRs.19.05/KL of water supply. Having accorded a lower cost of operations forwater services, the DJB has sliced off the water and sanitation components into two and awarded Water Supply at a lower cost to private operators. Hence the DJB will continue to incur Rs.19.05/KL cost of operations for dealing with sewerage, while the private operator has to show revenues against Rs.8.95/KL costing for water. Naturally then, the private operator will show surplus revenues, while the DJB that manages sewerage will incur huge losses.

Lopsided Cost and Revenue Sharing arrangement between the Private Sector and DJB

Cost and Revenues under PPP accounting by the DJB Private Operator DJB Total
Cost of water/sanitation Rs.8.95/KL(water) Rs.19.05/KL(sewerage) Rs.28/KL
Revenue – Monthly Household Billing for 25KL water consumption Rs.335 Rs.92 Rs.427/month

By working out the costing for water and sanitation services in this manner that suits the private operator and leaves the DJB, there is no doubt that the PPP projects for water supply in Delhi will be successful ingenerating operating surplus.

The DJB is providing free electricity in Nangloi to the private operator, hence the cost of water operations in Nangloi is coming at Rs.15/KL.[1]

Thirdly, the choice of areas under PPP is such that privatisation can be successful. Higher commercial household connections(Malaviya Nagar), servicing high income consumers(Vasant Vihar) whose water demand will be higher and willingness to pay also higher. Asagainst the cost of Rs.8.95/KL of water supply, the PPP project in MalaviyaNagar is already generating on an average Rs.12/KL of revenue.

Fourthly, by providing a higher cost of operation guaranteed contracts to the private operators, often at higherthan the current cost of operations of the DJB. The Delhi Government is trying to show that privatisation can lead to a win-win situation. That consumers  will gain in terms of better services(24×7 supply) at no extra cost for the consumer in terms of additional water tariffs. The DJB will gain in terms of competitive contracts that make the private parties responsible for all O&M works at a guaranteed water supply rate, called the Net Operator Rate[2], that is lower than or close to the current operating rate for DJB. This Study looked at these assumptions in terms of the current inequity in water supply, the priorities or the people and the economic logic of the DJB.

It is found that the guaranteed Net Operator Rate in all the 3 PPP pilot project zones is higher than the current operating expenses of DJB. The DJB justifies this increase in tariff that comes with an assurance of improved services. But did the DJB or the Delhi government, ever undertake public opinion on what the people want? Most people want an assured limited hourly water supply at affordable cost. Not 24×7 water at very high rates.

That Malaviya Nagar area is already generating a surplus operating revenue. What the PPP models therefore guarantee is 24×7 water supply in a very small area accompanied by a steep increase in the operating expenses of DJB on account of payout to the private operators. And the additional expense of handling sewerage that is likely to increase with increased water supply. It is mostlikely that the urban poor will be the most affected. They may have to pay for the first time in some instances and pay at a significantly higher rate, for the water that they were managing to get as a free entitlement from political patronage and DJB tanker supply.

 Private operating revenue vs. DJB[3]


SPML24×7 Malaviya Nagar



VoeliaOverall for DelhiPvt Operator Water supply costRs.4.11/KL + O&M Fee Rs.169 croreRs.10.84/KLRs.14.99/KL DJB water supply cost before PPP Rs.8.54/KLRs.4.86/KLRs.8.95/KL

 Where large capital investments (Nangloi) are required, the private operator will be paid 15% assured rate of return on capital invested, leading to a massive increase in cost per KL of water supplied every year, to be borne ultimately by the consumers.

Finally, privatisation will be able to show a massive reduction in water wastage, courtesy DJB. NRW will come down in the 3 PPP zones. The 3 PPP projects show a massive NRW water estimate of more than 60%. However as we have shown earlier, the reduction in NRW will primarily be from the increased investment in pipelines(70% of this investment coming from DJB), reduction in tanker water and borewells water as a result of free water supplied by the DJB and increased billing of household connections(that is simply a commercial operations). In the end when reduction of water wastage and NRW will be celebrated by the private operators, separate account of how much water was actually saved from leaking pipes and how much from the support given by DJB, will never come to light.

DJB contribution to privatisation success in the 3 PPPs

DJB is playing a major role in ensuring success of the 3 PPPs. It is being done in the following capital and operating cost subsidies given by the DJB. In addition to the increase in water tariffs and the lower notional cost of water supply (Rs.8.95/KL of water as against Rs.19.05/KL for sewerage) for the private operator; the following is being provided by the DJB;

    • Provide 70% of all new capital investments required for the PPPs (as JNNURM and State government share)
    • Provide a 15% rate of return on capital investment (30% capital investment for new infrastructure) of the private operator,
    • Hand over the use of its existing assets(buildings, pipelines, pumpsets, machinery) free of cost to the private operator
    • “DJB bearing 20% of the existing cost for rendering supervision and related services for the project”[4].
    • Sewer operations and maintenance to be DJB responsibility
    • Free Raw water as subsidy to the private operator by DJB
    • Free Power by the DJB for the Nangloi PPP project and incentives for reduction in power consumption over the years
    • No provision for stringent penalties and fines, including revocation of Contract of Private operator before 12 years, in case of inadequate service provision  or failure to maintain equity in water supply.
    • DJB will depute some of its staff to the private operator and DJB will cover their salaries.



[2] Defined by the DJB PPP Contracts as – Net Operator Rate that is Rs.XX for  every YY Kilo Litres/yr of water supplied by the private contractor.

[3] Culled out from the 3 PPP contracts uploaded on the DJB website

[4] Malaviya Nagar DPR page 134

2 thoughts on “Citizen Memorandum to all political parties in Delhi on Water & Sanitation Imperatives of manifesto

  1. Dear Davendra,
    Please get in contact with respect to an interview for a Water Rights book.
    Dr. Ross Michael Pink
    Co-Founder, Global Water Rights


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