The Madurai urban district unit of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has put Mayor G. Thenmozhi in a tight spot by asking her not to increase the maintenance charge for underground drainage scheme for domestic connections though a Government Order was issued way back in 2003.

Only a couple of days back did the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam urban district secretary K. Raju threatened to stage protest against the proposed increase. The administration of the cash-strapped local body is wary of the huge loss it would face if the demand of the ruling party is met. “We will consider it,” the Mayor told reporters.

Urban district secretary K. Thalapathi, along with Madurai Central MLA S.S. Ghouse Basha and few councillors, handed over a memorandum to the Mayor on Monday. “The increase of monthly maintenance charge from the existing Rs. 30 to Rs. 125 will affect the common man,” Mr. Thalapathi said.

Ms. Thenmozhi said that the Corporation has to pay its contribution for the underground drainage scheme, implemented under the National River Conservancy Project. Besides, it had to meet the increased maintenance charge for the scheme. Sewage of 100 million litres a day (MLD) had to be pumped with 30 pumping stations through the 800-km underground drainage system.

The March 31, 2003-dated G.O. allowed the local body to increase the maintenance charge on implementation of the underground drainage scheme executed by the Metro Water. The proposed revised monthly charge was Rs. 125 from Rs. 30 for domestic connections, Rs. 250 (Rs. 90) for commercial and Rs. 375 (Rs. 150) for industrial connections, Commissioner S. Sebastine said.

The project implementation got delayed and was handed over to the Corporation only on March 31, 2010. “We still have to pay the Metro Water for the scheme,” the Commissioner said.

Chief Engineer K. Sakthivel said that Rs. 30 monthly maintenance charge was fixed for the old underground drainage scheme. The scheme, implemented in 1924, catered to only a small portion of the city with pipes laid for just 240 km. It had only eight pumping stations then. “We were pumping only 29 MLD of sewage. But, now, we have to pump 100 MLD. The maintenance cost has gone up manifold,” he said. Pegging the monthly maintenance of the scheme at around Rs. 3 crore, he said that this amount had to be realised by collecting monthly charges from the 1.50 lakh underground drainage connections. So far, only 94,000 connections have been given.

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