Thiruvananthapuram: Some 1.5 lakh free public taps in the rural areas of the state are going to disappear. Drinking water will now carry a price for the marginalised people as well.
This is being done under the guise of Union government's Jal Jeevan Mission providing drinking water to all rural homes.
Public taps were brought across the State when the Kerala model of development came into existence in the 1970s.
On Oct 2, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced Jal Jeevan Mission aiming to give functional tap-water to every household in the country by 2024.
Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had convened a daylong meeting of state water resources ministers and senior officials in August and asked them to prepare a roadmap. The BJP government launched the project as a challenging mission after the successful Swachh Bharat Mission.
A KWA official said it aims at providing piped potable water to 55 lakh connections in the next five years in Kerala alone.
"Currently, there are only 25 lakh water connections under KWA. We will have to provide piped drinking water in the next five years," he told DC.
"If so, we will have to disconnect the loss-making public taps. By cutting off connections from a single public tap, we can actually provide drinking water connection to five families."
By doing so, the KWA is planning to cut 1.5 lakh public taps which will enable them to provide 7.5 lakh connections.
BPL consumers are going to be the most affected by the decision of a high-level meeting water resources minister K. Krishnankutty convened. They will have to cough up more money towards the water bill which comes once in two months.
"The BPL families were using up to 15, 000 litres of water provided free of cost. The free drinking water scheme is coming to an end," he added.
At the same time, it is the responsibility of the consumers to meet the expenditure ranging from Rs 10, 000 to Rs 15,000 towards a single water supply connection.
In the cities, the expenditure would be double as they will have to dig up roads to lay the pipeline. The flip side is that people living in water-scarce fishing hamlets, hilly areas, estate regions, SC/ST colonies and tribal colonies are going to be the most affected.
A section of KWA officials opposes the move as they feel that the Union government is trying to implement the system without understanding the significant features of the state.
They feel that disconnecting the public taps across the state is unwarranted to provide more water connections.
"What the KWA should be actually doing is to increase the distribution network with the existing funds. The decision to disconnect the public taps and to increase the water bills would only hit the consumers further," he said...