NEW DELHI: Arvind Kejriwal has kept his promise to Delhi. On Monday, his third day as Delhi chief minister, he announced the supply of 20 kilolitres a month (almost 700 litres a day) of free water for Delhi households from January 1, 2014. Mr Kejriwal was unwell and had to skip office yesterday, but chaired a meeting of the Delhi Jal Board at his apartment in Ghaziabad in the evening.
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- In a tweet later, the chief minister denied reports that his government would review the free-water decision in three months. “It is wrongly being said that our decision is for 3 months. Decision is for good. But obviously financial calculations r for balance FY (sic),” he posted.
- Arvind Kejriwal also sought to address concern that the free water would be a financial drain. It would cost the government just 40 crores for the last three months of this financial year and Rs. 160 crore a year thereafter, he tweeted.
- A water official had announced after the meeting that all households with functional water metres can avail the free water. Those who use more will have to pay for the entire supply.
- The new Chief Minister tweeted yesterday morning, “It was so important to attend office today. We had planned the water announcement. God, bahut galat time par bimaar kiya (have fallen ill at the wrong time.)” His party asked well-wishers and supporters to stop flocking to his home, saying he needed to rest.
- The Delhi cabinet said it would meet the public at the government’s headquarters at noon yesterday. But after word got out that Mr Kejriwal was not in office, virtually nobody showed up to meet the ministers.
- Rakhi Birla, the 26-year-old minister, showed up at work in an auto-rickshaw, reinforcing the Aam Aadmi Party’s determination to present itself as a party of the people.
- Mr Kejriwal and his ministers have declared war on Delhi’s VIP culture. They have said no government official will use the red beacon or lal batti that gives politicians’ cars the right of way. They’ve also refused escort vehicles and security.
- On Sunday, the 45-year-old chief minister asked for “7-10 days” to set up a process for receiving requests and complaints, after groups gathered outside his home seeking his intervention on different issues.
- Mr Kejriwal has also vowed to halve the prices of electricity. Mr Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have alleged that power distribution companies colluded with officials in earlier governments to over-charge Delhi for power.
- Sources say the new government is likely to order an audit of electricity companies in the next 48 hours. The government is also reportedly planning to reduce power price by 50% by providing a huge subsidy.