An RTI query has revealed that in three years of coming to power, Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government has turned profit making Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to a Rs. 800 crore loss-making unit. As per reports, when Kejriwal came to power, he had theorised that the DJB should work under no-profit-no-loss basis. He believed that the aim of the board is not to make a profit but to benefit the people. But ever since he took charge of the DJB, it has turned into a loss-making unit.
In response to the RTI filed by RTI activist Sanjeev Jain, in the year 2016-17, the DJB posted the loss of Rs. 533 crore whereas the estimated loss for the year 2017-18 is pegged at Rs. 275 crore. This takes the loss of two years to over Rs. 800 crores. Interestingly, in the year 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16, the board showed no loss. The RTI says that the loss is due to the implementation of 7th Pay Commission. The decision to provide free water may have been a politically wise decision, but financially it does not seem to have done well for the DJB. In a bid to counter the losses, the board had increased tariffs by 20% in December 2017. The increased bill reached the consumers from February onward. Even though the board has the mandate to increase 10% tariff every year, the rates were not increased in last 3 years, which could have added to the loss.
Delhi High Court has also raised questions over the free water provided by Delhi Government. Charge one paisa or 10 paise, but nothing should be given free of cost, the Delhi High Court had said to the Delhi Government.
Two years back, Arvind Kejriwal had said that the board had made a profit of Rs. 178 crore and credited his non-corruption stand on the same. He had credited himself for the profit and said that the money has stopped going to the ministers’ pockets and hence the profit. Interestingly, Kejriwal, who was had not held a single portfolio, took over water portfolio in September 2017 and became the chairperson of the Delhi Jal Board.