Nurpur, February 16
After the recent decision of the state government to provide free monthly power supply to households that consume up to 60 units per month and slash the tariff for some other categories, the demand for the withdrawal of the annual 10-per cent increase in water bills of domestic consumers in the coming annual Budget session is gaining momentum. Since 2005, the Jal Shakti Department has been increasing the piped water charges by 10 per cent each year.
The then Virbhadra Singh government had issued this notification in 2005. As a sequel, an urban domestic consumer, who had been paying Rs 40 for one water connection per month in 2005, will have to pay Rs 201 from April. In rural areas, the domestic consumer who had been paying Rs 10 will have to pay Rs 51 from the next financial year. Resentment is brewing among water consumers, especially the poor. The water bill with enhanced tariff has become a bane for the poor who are unable to pay hefty bills as the Jal Shakti Department used to issue the bills after a gap of six to eight months.
The urban as well as rural water consumers have appealed to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur to revoke 2005’s notification for hiking water charges every year and rollback annual water tariff in the coming annual budget session so that people could get respite from this tariff hike that had become a regular annual feature in the state. They have demanded to reschedule water bill with fixed monthly charges between Rs 50 to 100 for urban areas and Rs 20 to 30 for rural areas.
Residents Anu Raina, Rajni Devi, Pradeep, Joginder Mehra, Surinder Mahajan, Raj Kumar Sharma and Sanjay Kumar pleaded that the water tariff hike was against the spirit of Modi government’s Jal Jeevan Mission aimed at ensuring access of piped water for every household in the country through individual household tap connections by 2024. They have also demanded quarterly billing cycle, keeping in view the paying capacity of poor residents.
Promod Mahajan, president of Nurpur Sudhar Sabha, and PD Sahotra, general secretary of the town welfare committee, have demanded bi-monthly water bills with the online payment facility.
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