Free water announced by the government for the poor is sheer populism in the wake of elections to the Lok Sabha.

The water tariff revision is partly the result of compulsions from financial agencies such as the World Bank, which wants the Kerala Authority at least to realize the production cost of water if not the heavy investment in water supply schemes. It also wanted to the government to eliminate public taps.

However, the government does not want to appear to be taxing the poor. Hence, the misguided policy decision to supply them free water. We can only hope that other States would not emulate this as that leads to sheer wastage of water and training of the poor to overuse water.

The Government expenditure for the subsidy is almost double what the poor get as water at lower consumption brackets are already subsidized. The government could have used the money for some direct welfare measures for the poor instead of teaching the poor excessive use of water.

Related: Rewarding consumption, fostering wastage