New Delhi: Prior to the 2019 Rajasthan Lok Sabha elections, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot from the INC announced a free water scheme for the state. Under the scheme, consumers living in urban areas would not be charged for using water (up to 15,000 litres) and in rural areas, supply of water up to 40 litres per capita per day would be free of cost. Certain fixed charges would be levied on customers for meter service and innovation charges.
Now the question that arises is how successful the scheme was. The implementation of the free water scheme in Rajasthan was done quite differently from that in New Delhi, leading to a unique set of challenges. In June 2019, following the election, the Public Health and Engineering Department of Rajasthan (PHED) announced the scheme would only be applicable for those who already have a metered connection. This would mean that a significant portion of customers who do not have a meter, and who would arguably benefit most from the scheme would be left out. As of August 2019, in the city of Jaipur alone, around two lakh consumers did not have a metered connection. As per PHED officials no information had been provided to install new meter connections. In fact, in 2018, under the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government, 70,000 water meters were to be installed in Jaipur as part of the smart city project. However, this was much less than the requirement, and out of the 70,000 meters, only half were installed.