Shortage of funds hampers installation of water meters in Kashmir

Srinagar, July 13: The non-availability of funds is hampering the Public Health Engineering (PHE) department to start work on the installation of the water meters in Kashmir division.

Talking to Morning Kashmir News paper over phone, Chief engineer PHE Kashmir division, Sanjeeve Malhotra said, “We are aware that there is a misuse of tap water, there was a plan to install the water meters but due to the non availability of funds, we could not start the work on installation of water meters,” the CE said.

It is to mention here that the water meter installation was a part of the government of India’s project which was supposed to be implemented in a phased manner years ago.

A senior official said that work on installation of water meters was expected to begin from April last year.

“Srinagar and Jammu cities were supposed to be covered in a first phase.  But it could not happen till date though the process was started in some areas in the Jammu city.

Official sources said that once the funds will be available the users from all categories will be covered under the project, including the residential, commercial, industrial areas and institutional establishments.

“We will first complete the installation of water meters to the commercial establishments then go to other sectors. The installation of water meters is to bring an end to the imprudent use of drinking water and yield revenue to the government as a significant portion of the daily consumption of water is used for non-potable purposes like gardening and washing of vehicles. The proposal for installation of water meters was framed years ago but was kept on hold as the previous elected government’s feared backlash in the elections,” the official said.

The official however said that installation of water meters was not to put any burden on consumers. “After installation of water meters, there will be 24×7 tap water to all consumers. Besides, it will also stop misuse of water as many people use tap water for gardening and also washing their vehicles resulting in many areas facing shortage of tap water. The water shortage problem can only be resolved if people are willing to change their attitude towards water consumption,” the official said.

Many states and cities in India have already installed metering of domestic as well as commercial water connections including Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Delhi. The residents in these areas have opted for smart water meters linked to phones that provide updates on consumption data and the bill.

 Sources said that the government had clearly directed the PHE department to strictly impose the Water Resources Regulation Act, which makes it an offence to illegally withdraw water from an overground or underground infrastructure of the PHE.

Offences committed under Section 159 of the Water Act under Section 3 of the J&K Public Property (Prevention and Damage) Act -1985 entail imprisonment up to five years. “Whoever commits mischief by doing any act in respect of any public property, being any building, installation or other property used in connection with the production, distribution or supply of water, light power or energy, can be punished with rigorous imprisonment of six month to five years,” the official added.

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