Charges will be enhanced every year by a minimum of 7 per cent, it says

Barely five days after presenting the 2013-14 budget sans any proposal on water tariff revision, the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) has very steeply hiked the water charges saying it had to rationalise the water tariff. The hike ranged between 87 per cent and 585 per cent for above poverty line (APL) families and 90 per cent for below poverty line (BPL) families.

The VMC also stated that the charges would be enhanced every year by a minimum 7 per cent over the previous year’s charges with effect from April 1 of every year. The billing and collection would be done once in two months. The corporation had de-linked the water supply charges and sewerage charges from property tax demand notices. Hereafter, the water and sewer charges would be collected bi-monthly.

The VMC officials said the last revision of water supply was effected in 2004 when the operation and maintenance expenditure on water supply was Rs. 9.69 crore. The demand was Rs. 8.88 crore then, and the gap was a mere Rs. 0.80 crore.

At present, the demand was Rs.11.50 crore, while the O&M was Rs.29.33 crore.

There is a gap of Rs. 17.83 crore between demand and O&M costs. The cost of power, staff, chemicals, and fuels has increased substantially in the last eight years. The O&M charges have increased substantially impacting the finances of the corporation, the officials said.

Reacting to the upward revision, CPI(M) city secretary Ch. Babu Rao said it was unfortunate that the VMC was ready to put a burden of Rs. 19.83 crore on the people. The VMC was already putting huge burden on various pretexts.

The Congress government had no concern for the people.

It criticised the Municipal Commissioner for claiming that the water charges were hiked as part of JNNURM reforms.

The CPI(M )would not keep quiet if the hike was not rolled back, he said.

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