AAP MLAs protest stalling of water bill scheme, Delhi Assembly adjourned for day : The Tribune India

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AAP MLAs protest stalling of water bill scheme, Delhi Assembly adjourned for day

AAP MLAs protest stalling of water bill scheme, Delhi Assembly adjourned for day

AAP MLAs protest outside the House during the Assembly session on Tuesday. PHOTO: MANAS RANJAN BHUI



Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 20

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs trooped into the well of the Delhi Assembly on Tuesday and protested against the stalling of the one-time settlement scheme for rectifying water bills, leading the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day.

The MLAs raised slogans against the BJP, accusing it of putting pressure on officers to stall the scheme. They urged Lieutenant-Governor VK Saxena to take action against the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) officials for the non-implementation of ‘One-Time Settlement’ scheme for inaccurate bills.

The session, which commenced at 11 am and was scheduled until 2 pm, faced disruptions and was adjourned first at 12.15 pm, within a minute into the protest, for half an hour. Despite the brief hiatus, similar disruptions persisted, leading to another adjournment. Eventually, the House was adjourned till 11 am on Wednesday. Following this, AAP MLAs demonstrated by sitting in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue.

Delhi Cabinet Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj highlighted that there are 27 lakh consumers of the Delhi Jal Board in the Capital, among whom 10.6 lakh consumers, roughly 40 per cent, haven’t paid their water bills for months. These consumers have cited reasons such as exorbitant bills, much higher than their water consumption, and incorrect bill issuances.

“This situation has escalated into a deadlock between the DJB and its consumers, where consumers are refusing to pay bills, and the DJB is not reducing its bills. These bills are increasing daily due to interest and late payment charges levied by the DJB,” stated the minister.

Bhardwaj added that the policy was passed by the DJB in June 2023 without being brought to the Cabinet’s attention. “Regarding this matter, we have informed the L-G, and he has assured us of assistance,” he concluded.

Delhi Cabinet Minister Atishi highlighted that the most pressing issue faced by the people of Delhi today is their significantly inflated water bills, which have persisted for the last one-and-a-half years. She attributed this problem partly to the fact that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the department concerned continued to send bills without taking meter readings, causing bills to escalate.

Atishi warned the BJP that the visible anger in the Delhi Assembly would spill onto the streets if the scheme for water bills is not introduced. She asserted, “If you obstruct the scheme through officers, then Kejriwal’s government and every soldier of his will take to the streets and fight to pass this scheme.”

Leader of Opposition Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, the sole BJP MLA present during the second adjournment, alleged that the AAP MLAs raised “objectionable slogans” against him and his party leaders. He lodged a complaint with Speaker Ram Niwas Goel, alleging misconduct by AAP MLAs during the session. Bidhuri demanded action against the AAP legislators for their behaviour.

He pointed out that the previous week, the Speaker had suspended seven out of the total eight BJP MLAs in the House due to disruptions during the L-G’s address in the budget session. Bidhuri emphasised that the suspension of the MLAs stemmed solely from their act of standing on their seats during the L-G’s address. He questioned the lack of corresponding action against MLAs from the ruling party, stating, “If BJP MLAs face suspension merely for expressing their views, why is there no corresponding action against MLAs from the ruling party?”

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