Water board to meet after November 16 to decide on new rates
A steep increase in water rates is on the cards with the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) being given the authority to decide on the quantum of hike by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
Indications are that the board will meet in about a week to finalise the tariff hike. BWSSB chairperson M.S. Ravishankar told The Hindu that the hike in tariff could be around 50 per cent to enable the board obtain adequate revenue. Ït is, however, for the members of the board to finalise on the quantum of hike.
The Chief Minister’s direction to the board to decide on the hike was communicated orally to Mr. Ravishankar by the officials of the Urban Development Department. “Following this, the board will meet as soon as possible. But with the Principal Secretary (Urban Development), who is a member of the board, out of station till November 16, we will meet soon after that depending on the convenience of the other members,” he said.
The water charges have not been hiked since 2005 although power charges were raised at least eight times. “While our monthly expenses are nearly Rs. 75 crore, the revenue generation is only Rs. 50 crore. Our annual power charges have gone up from Rs. 220 crore in 2005 to Rs. 374 crore now. We are just repairing the infrastructure as and when a problem crops up. We have not been able to change pipelines or take up new projects. We are not even able to restore roads after digging them up for pipeline repairs and are facing a lot of criticism for this,” he explained.
A senior MLA from the city, who is also a Minister, said that although the Board was asking for more, it would be advisable to increase the charges by 10 per cent. “This is to ensure that the hike does not affect the citizens in a big way and also bring in additional revenue,” the Minister said.
But Mr. Ravishankar said that a 10 per cent hike would not make much of a difference to the board’s finances.
Sources in the Urban Development Department said the board had asked for a reduction in the number of slabs from eight to five for both domestic and non-domestic connections. The present minimum slab of 0-8,000 litres is likely to be revised to 0-6,000 litres. That apart, the minimum rate for a kilolitre of water is likely to be revised from Rs. 6 to Rs. 10.
After a tariff revision in 2002, the minimum slab of 0-15,000 litres for domestic connections was changed to 0-8,000 litres in February 2005.
Then the rates were fixed at Rs. 6 per kilolitre of water in the first slab of 0-8,000 litres, Rs. 9 a kilolitre in next slab of 8,000 – 25,000 litres, Rs. 15 a kilolitre in the third slab of 25,000 – 50,000 litres, Rs. 30 a kilolitre in the slab of 50,000 – 75,000 litres and Rs. 36 in 75,000 – one lakh litres and above. These rates have remained the same since then.