New Delhi/Panaji, Aug 17 : Akin to Delhi government's '20,000 litres of free water' for all plan, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has now announced '16,000 litres of free water' per month from September 1 with a claim that it will lead to saving more water.
Activists are skeptical that this may just be a political one-upmanship while Goa netizens expressed diverse reactions to the announcement on Twitter.
Many see this as a mere election ploy as the announcement came days after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had promised to provide free electricity to Goans if it wins in the forthcoming Assembly elections scheduled less than six months away.
The World Health Organization (WHO) prescribed standard is 135 litres per capita per day (lpcd). Delhi government's calculation of 20,000 litres of free water (approximately 666 litres per day) is based on 135 lpcd with an average family size of five.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had first made this announcement on the Independence Day and then on Monday he explained that giving free tap water capped with a limit of 16,000 litres will encourage people to save water.
Goa's total requirement of potable water is 589 million litres per day (MLD), of which the government is supplying 513 MLD.
"There is a shortage of 76.37 MLD of water for drinking purpose," Sawant had told mediapersons in February this year.
With bountiful monsoon, the coastal state does not face any water problem from June till December. However, the state starts facing water crunch soon after January, which continues till May when the state gets pre-monsoon showers.
"Practically, there are many areas of Goa that do not get any water. (Delhi Chief Minister Arvind) Kejriwal has offered free electricity and now Sawant is giving free water.
"In many areas in Goa, there is no water for two days. There is no water on a daily basis. So whatever water people will get, they will hoard, rather than waste it. How can they waste it?" Goa-based environmentalist Claude Alvares told IANS over phone.
Calculation of the cost of the water that the Chief Minister has promised to give for free is Rs 61 per connection.
"So, it will be a very small quantity, not sure how it will help," Alvares said and claimed that the government has removed all public stand posts that gave free water in the name of wastage.
The current cost of processing raw water is Rs 15 per cubic metre, against which the government is charging merely Rs 2.15 per cubic metre from non-commercial customers, Sawant had said on Monday.
However, neither the Chief Minister declared any details, nor has the state government brought out any notification regarding the details of the tariff structure.
"There has to be a progressive tariff rate, which means those who consume more, will pay more. If there is no progressive tariff linked to the free service, the incentives will not accrue," said the Chief Executive of Water Aid India, V.K. Madhavan.
From an equity perspective, those who consume less water are entitled to get it for free under a certain threshold, he said.
Alvares also warned about the government's separate pipelines supplying water to the high-end five-star hotels.
"They are not bothered about 16,000 litres per day. They waste a lot of water; they have swimming pools. They require 1,000 litres water per person to keep it hygienic, for cleanliness alone. I will be very happy if he (Sawant) supplies 16,000 litres of water to those who don't get it right now," Alvares said.
Incidentally, in October 2020, the state and the Central governments had claimed that both districts of Goa -- North Goa with 1.65 lakh rural households and South Goa with 98,000 rural households -- have 100 per cent tap water connections for assured piped water supply under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) of the Jal Shakti Ministry.