India: Water to Flow Free for Urban Poor

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India: Water to Flow Free for Urban Poor
By: Express News Service
25 May 2016
 

BHUBANESWAR: Even as the heat wave has staged a comeback, the Odisha Government on Tuesday waived water connection charges for BPL households in urban area in its bid to overcome drinking water woes. The move will mean water supply will now be provided free of cost to poor families across the municipal areas of the State.

The complete waiver of connection charges is expected to benefit about 2.3 lakh poor families residing in 103 urban local bodies (ULBs), Special Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department Sisir Kumar Ratho said.

Earlier, the urban poor had to pay `500 as water supply connection charges under Piyush Scheme of the Government which aimed at universalising water supply to meet MDG goals. However, procedural bottlenecks and affordability posed hurdles and the Government reconsidered the connection charges.

In fact, application procedure for poor families in urban areas had already been simplified by the Government to facilitate water supply. To plug water theft and pilferage, the Public health Engineering Organisation (PHEO) sought ID proof, BPL card, proof of Record of Right over the property which included an array of documents such as copy of municipal holding tax receipts, registration or sale deeds, lease deed of the land along with the application.

As it led to difficulty, the PHEO mandated only proofs of identity and residence to complete the documentation process. Similarly, the connection charges were allowed to be paid in five interest-free instalments.

“Despite simplification of the procedures for water supply connection, it was observed that many households were deprived of drinking water facilities,” Ratho said.

While affordability turned out to be a major issue prompting the Government to consider complete waiver of charges, frequent outbreak of water-borne diseases in urban slums also played a factor in the decision, sources said. In the last two years, several incidences of jaundice outbreaks from different parts of the State have been reported.

A notification issued by the Department stated that the Government took the decision keeping in view rapid urbanisation, increasing health hazards and continuing heat wave situation.

Besides, the Odisha State Urban Water Supply Policy 2013, which mandates simplification of the process and universal access, also played a part.

The facility is also applicable to urban poor who are covered under Antyodaya, Annapurna and other welfare schemes.

Govt relief

  • Government waived water connection charges for BPL households in urban area
  • Earlier, the urban poor had to pay `500 as water supply connection charges under Piyush Scheme
  • The decision was taken keeping in view rapid urbanisation, increasing health hazards and continuing heat wave situation
  • The scheme is also applicable to urban poor who are covered under Antyodaya, Annapurna and other welfare schemes

Original article

Themes
• Access to natural resources
• Advocacy
• Basic services
• ESC rights
• Informal settlements
• International
• Low income
• Squatters
• Urban planning

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