The Coimbatore Corporation's proposal to hike the tariff for drinking water met with resistance from the councillors at the last council meeting.
The councillors also did not take up for consideration the draft by-laws on water supply. The failure to debate and decide on the tariff hike and the draft by-laws has divided the councillors into two groups _ those who do not favour the increase and those who welcome the same.
Those who oppose the hike and the draft by-laws say the proposed cent per cent increase will burden the people and also bring in unnecessary procedures in getting a new water connection.
Ward 61 councillor K. Purushothaman says that the by-law draft is against the free supply of 100 litres a day to household connections. The free supply is the basic service that the Corporation assures a property tax assessee and comes along with the tax assessment.
The proposal to reduce the slab from 50,000 litres to 15,000 litres for water usage will only lead to cent per cent increase in user charges for the city's resident, as the minimum proposed tariff is Rs. 6 per 1000 litres. At present it is Rs. 3.50 per 1000 litres.
“The proposal is unprecedented in the history of the Corporation as the hike in user charges has been around 20 per cent so far. It is nothing but commercialisation of water,” he charges.
Regarding the draft by-laws, Mr. Purushothaman says that those seeking new connections will henceforth have to get too many signatures, which will only breed corruption. “It is a retrograde step, against transparency and simplification of administration.”
Presenting a rough calculation, he says a family consuming 600 litres a day will consume 36,000 litres for two months. Discounting the 100 litre supplied free of charge a day, the family's consumption for billing will only be 30,000 litres.
At the present charge of Rs. 3.50 for every 1,000 litres, the family will pay around Rs. 105 and the fixed charge of Rs. 120. The total works out to just Rs. 225.
Under the proposed tariff, the family will pay a minimum of Rs. 100 for 15,000 litres, Rs. 8 for consumption between 15,001 and 20,000 litres and Rs. 10 thereafter. Along with the fixed user charge of Rs. 120, the family's spending towards water works out to Rs. 410.
Such a hike is unwarranted, he reiterates.
Those who advocate the increase in tariff and favour the passage of the by-laws say, given the civic body's financial commitments, it is necessary.
C. Padmanabhan, Ward 3 councillor, says it has been 13 years since the last hike was made and there is every justification for a new one because the civic body is finding it difficult to pay for the water it is getting from the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board.
The hike is also necessary for the implementation of the Pilloor Phase II scheme, which is funded by the Central and State governments under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
Sources in the engineering wing of the Corporation say the civic body has to hike the water cess to strengthen its loan repayment ability and also get the second instalments of funds released.
Unless the civic body is able to demonstrate that it can repay the loan availed of for the implementation for the water supply scheme, the governments will not release the funds.
Mr. Padmanabhan adds the Corporation has to do so because even a smaller local body like Kurichi has been able to hike charges.
Keywords: water tariff