November 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India
Hike in water, sewerage charges on anvil
Chandigarh, November 14
This decision is in tune with the fiscal reforms being undertaken in Punjab in view of the stoppage of flow of financial support from international funding agencies, as tariffs in social and economic services were not viable.
Mr Sarvesh Kaushal Secretary, Local Government, told TNS that the recommended user charges were as follows:
For yellow card holders, the water rates will be 50 per cent of the rate applicable up to 5 marla plot.
In the case of defect in water meters, the first bill shall be issued on an average basis for the past three bills and thereafter, the rate shall be three times the average charges.
For own sources Equal to water charges of metered supply of water supply.
For yellow card holders, the sewerage rates will be 50 per cent of the rates applicable up to a 5 marla house. For institutional, commercial and industrial connections, only metered connections to be provided and rates will be double the above rates for water supply and sewerage charges shall be equal to water charges.
Mr Kaushal said people could afford to spend Rs 15 on a mineral water bottle but were unwilling to pay just Rs 1.20 per thousand litres of water, the present user charges. At present water supply to different towns varies from 125 litres to 172 litres per capita, per day.
Most of the local bodies were spending 10 per cent to 14 per cent of their annual budget on operation and maintenance of these services, while the income was only 5 per cent to 7 per cent.
Mr Kaushal said the receipts varied between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of the total expenditure on operation and maintenance. For the present coverage, while expenditure is Rs 115 crore per annum, revenue is Rs 59 crore. The commercial, industrial institutions contribute just Rs 10 crore.
The issue of levy of user charges has been hanging fire since November 1999, as political compulsions, pulls and pressures prevented the SAD-BJP Government to implement its decision under which the water charges were to be Rs 2.50 per thousand litres for metered supply and Rs 50 to Rs 200 per connection per month for unmetered supply. For sewerage, the recommendations were Rs 50 to Rs 200 per connection, depending upon the size of the sewer connection.
The local bodies will ensure ''quality supply'' and service and has suggested privatisation, in phases of billing and collections.
Alongside, a draft on the establishment of a Punjab municipal services Regulatory Commission Act, 2002, has also been posted for consideration of the Cabinet sub-committee. This Act provides for rationalisation of the water and sewerage charges, octroi, property tax, licence fee, sanitation cess and other municipal taxes and other policies.
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