People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
CPI(M) Opposes Delhi Govts New Liquor Policy
THE Delhi state secretariat of CPI(M) has strongly opposed the decision of the Congress state government to privatise liquor sales in the capital. This is nothing but a ploy to collect money through auction of vending rights. The experience of most other states shows that this system spawns corruption and provides an easy source of unearned money for those in power and the bureaucracy. All talk of providing better services and availability is essentially a cover for justifying the allurements inherent in this policy. The policy will lead to mushrooming of liquor vends in different areas and will spur on the process of increase in alcoholism, which, as various studies reveal, has already taken on alarming proportions.
The CPI(M) has opposed the permission given to private banquet halls and farmhouses to serve liquor. These are dens of debauchery and vice for the rich. Not so long ago, Jessica Lal was done to death in one such place by inebriated elite criminals. Liquor serving at these places will further aid the growth in elite crimes. Besides, the verve with which the state government is propagating the virtues of its new tryst with Bacchus speaks volumes about its priorities. The CPI(M) has demanded withdrawal of this policy.
ON POWER AND WATER CRISIS
Like every other year, the onset of summer has brought prolonged power cuts and acute shortage of water. The oft-repeated promises of the state government to prevent this from happening have come to nought. Behind this lies the callousness of the government to the needs of the people and its flawed power and water policies.
In a memorandum submitted to the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission earlier this year, the CPI(M) had pinpointed the extremely high transmission and distribution (T&D) losses, mainly due to theft. These losses stand at around 50 per cent, and are a major factor in the power crisis. The DVBs own studies indicate that industrial units, commercial establishments and rich colonies account for 85 per cent of power theft in Delhi. The DVB has proposed a reduction of just 2 per cent per annum in T&D losses, which indicates the unwillingness of the state government and DVB to crack down on these well-heeled thieves. Stoppage of this massive power theft would make almost twice the amount of electricity available and spare the people the miseries they are currently undergoing.
The water crisis is even more alarming. Lakhs of people in the slums and poor colonies are being forced to purchase water at rates as high as Rs 10 per bucket from private contractors. The Delhi Jal Board admits that almost one third of the water pumped is lost due to leakages. However, all it does is to issue vague statements about replacement of pipes. To top this, replacement work has been given to private contractors who use substandard materials, which perpetuates large-scale leakages.
Besides, the Jal Boards policy is loaded against the poor. Thus the NDMC areas get about 462 litres of water per capita daily (lpcd), while MCD areas get anything between 29 lpcd (in Mehrauli) to 130 lpcd (in Shahadra). Those taking water from community taps in MCD areas get as little as 18-20 lpcd. The Delhi government has institutionalised this discrimination by declaring a norm of 60 gallons per capita daily (gpcd) for approved colonies, 34 gpcd for regularised colonies and 11 gpcd for "other areas." The Delhi governments express concern about the failing water table but refuses to stop residents in rich colonies from sinking their own tube wells.
The Delhi state unit of the CPI(M) has demanded that the Delhi government take steps on a war footing to combat the grave water and electricity crisis facing the city today. It has also demanded a reappraisal of and public debate on its anti-poor power and water policies. (INN)