Cuts hike in service charge for collection of solid wastes from hotels, hospitals by 40 per cent
Tiruchi Corporation Council on Wednesday deferred a proposal to hike the drinking water tax in the city overriding the concerns of officials who contended that the civic body was in urgent need to raise the resources to repay the loan taken for the Rs.221.42 crore drinking water supply augmentation scheme.
However, a hike in the water tax seems imminent in the next few months as the subject is likely to be brought before the council again after examination by a committee, as suggested by the AIADMK members. The council, in April 2008, had approved a revision in the water tax revision in a phased manner in view of the implementation of the new scheme.
On Wednesday, an official resolution proposing a steep hike in the water tax, tabled at an urgent meeting of the council chaired by A.Jaya, Mayor, was kept in abeyance owing to stiff opposition from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the apparent indecisiveness among the AIADMK councillors.
The resolution pointed out that the corporation had to contribute Rs.43.74 crore for the drinking water augmentation scheme, a project supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency. The project is currently under execution in the city and is expected to be completed over the next few months. The scheme was taken up with loans to the extent of Rs.111.25 crore raised through Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited.
The corporation was currently incurring an expenditure of Rs.28.97 crore annually for drinking water supply against a revenue realisation of Rs.19.97 crore.
As the corporation had to make its contribution and also begin servicing the debt, the official resolution proposed doubling of the water tax for domestic connections from the existing Rs.100 a month. Step hikes were also proposed for non-domestic uses, industries and other establishments. Besides, the deposits for water connections were proposed to be hiked for various categories.
However, the resolution met with stiff resistance from the DMK members, who maintained that no hike should be effected until the new water scheme was fully commissioned. M.Venkataraj, independent, and M.Anbazahgan, DMK, contended that people were already reeling under the general price rise, rise in the price of petroleum products, bus fare and electricity charges, and demanded that the resolution be cancelled.
J.Srinivasan, AIADMK, pointed out that the scheme and the decision to raise the loan was taken during the previous DMK regime in 2008 and the AIADMK had then objected to any hike in the water tax on account of the project. He suggested that a committee be formed to study the matter.
Corporation Commissioner V.P.Thandapani made a strong pitch for the council’s nod pointing out that the corporation had to pay Rs.13 crore annually towards interest for the loan taken by the project. Or else, the council should come with a plan of action to raise the resources, he said. Mayor A.Jaya, however, suggested that the resolution could be deferred and the civic body could explore alternatives to raise the required funds.
The council also deferred a resolution proposing the installation of water metres for the 95,385 water connections in the city to measure the water consumption by the users.
Service charge reduced
A proposal to hike the service charges for solid waste collection and handling from hotels, hospitals, tea shops and roadside eateries in marriage halls in the city also ran into stiff opposition from the DMK benches.
After a brief wrangling, the council gave its nod to the proposal after effecting a 40 per cent cut in the revised rates proposed in the official resolution. Accordingly, star hotels would pay the maximum service charge of Rs.60 a day instead of the existing annual fee of Rs.3,600. Cinema halls, small workshops and sticker shops (of less than 1,000 square feet in area) would attract the minimum at Rs.4 a day. All other establishments generating solid wastes in the city would be required to pay the service charge.