The Ullal Town Municipality has cut off water supply to nearly 200 of the 2,500 public taps that meet the needs of over 8,000 households here, free of cost. The municipality plans to disconnect the remaining taps soon and replace them with direct domestic water connections.
People will have to pay Rs. 2,500 as security deposit for each connection and bear the cost of installation. According to the rules, installation of pipes and taps for domestic connections can be done only by plumbers licensed by the municipality.
According to residents, the cost of each installation may vary between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 10,000., depending on the rate charged by each licensed plumber.
Many residents of the area who participated in a protest in front of the municipality organised by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) on Monday alleged that the licensed plumbers were exploiting people by charging exorbitant rates.
One protester even alleged that the plumbers had come up with “innovative schemes” to maximise their profit. “They are offering commissions and free connections to those who can find customers for them,” said Sumati, a protester.
B.C. Sadananda, Chief Officer of the municipality, told The Hindu that in addition to the security deposit, domestic users would be charged a nominal tariff of Rs. 60 a month.
Large commercial establishments would have to pay Rs. 8,000 as deposit and would be charged Rs. 180 a month while small commercial establishments would have to deposit Rs. 6,000 and pay Rs. 160 a month, Mr. Sadananda said and added that the cost of installation would have to be borne by the public.
He said the urban local body was forced to tax the public because it had borrowed Rs. 15 crore from the Asian Development Bank to lay a water pipeline connecting the pump-house at Padil to Ullal. “We have to repay this money and there is no option but to pass the burden on to the user,” he said.
The DYFI has threatened to intensify the agitation against the move. President of the district unit of DYFI Muneer Katipalla said that if the authorities continued with their plans, his organisation would lay siege to the municipality office.
Mr. Sadananda said, “We have stopped disconnecting public taps for the moment. A decision will be taken on the issue by elected representatives of the municipality at a meeting to be held by April-end.”
Keywords: Regulation of water supply