Water is a rare commodity. With each passing day, scarcity of water is increasing. This is a global scenario. Migration to urban areas and population explosion are two main reasons causing pressure on supply of drinking water. Water sources are depleting owing to geological changes and glaciers are melting with the result that perennial flow of water is threatened. Condition in dry and arid areas and deserts is worse.
Water supply scheme has brought many urban and rural areas under its ambit. Many regions that suffered scarcity of water especially the kandi regions are now having access to water though some areas still remain deprived. That much should go to the credit of the State Government.
But we in the state are faced with a man made problem in the context of supply of drinking water for individual or commercial use. The problem is wanton waste of water and total ignorance about its economic use. The waste is of much larger scale in commercial units than for private consumption. Our careless and imprudent attitude towards the use of water deprives millions of people of this vital commodity. The time has come that use of water is to be restrained whether for private or for commercial use. Alive to this situation, the Government took serious view of the matter and decided that metering of water connections should be undertaken without waste of time. The Government set 30 June as the deadline for metering water connections in all commercial establishments across the State. In most of the States water connections are metered. It has two benefits. One is that it generates revenue to supplement water supply schemes and the second is that it exercises voluntarily control on the use of water. As long as water connections remain unmetered people are tempted to wanton waste of water to the woe of millions of people who are thirsting for a single drop. Since the Government issues warning that the officials of PHE would be held responsible for not metering water connections the officials began the mission with all zeal. But as is now known late last year the PHE Department on the directions from the higher-ups procured around 2400 meters (majority of them meant for domestic category) without any clarity about whether all sorts of connections would be taken up for metering in one go or in phased manner. The confusion has not been cleared so far while instructions are issued to the PHE.
In order to remove the confusion, the Government must first clarify whether metering is to be done to commercial connections only or to both commercial as well as the private ones. If this confusion is cleared, the rest will follow. In our opinion, metering of all water connections should be enforced and without delay. But the Government can and should make distinction between private connections and commercial connections. This would also mean difference in the rate of water tax which will be higher in the case of commercial units and lower for domestic unties.
Metering should be in all the regions of the State along uniform principle. At the same time, while metering will be carried out as per the instructions of the Government, PHE shall have to ensure that water supply remain uninterrupted in all metered areas. The situation obtaining now in Jammu city is that if there is power cut, water supply is also affected sometimes minimally and some times maximally. A foolproof arrangement shall have to be made to make supply of drinking water uninterrupted in the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar and most of the towns. Whether this is practicable or not is a matter that should be discussed by the civil society in collaboration with the Government. With all said and done, big responsibility lies with the people or the consumers. They must understand that they have no right to waste the water which is a rare commodity and of immense necessity to the society. We appreciate Government’s concern for conserving water as a precious commodity. Metering of water connections should take place at full speed and any slackness on the part of the officials and functionaries of PHE should be taken a serious view of.