‘Hike imminent as board needs revenue for taking up projects’

Be prepared to pay more for your daily Cauvery water supply. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday cleared the decks for an upward revision of water tariff by authorising the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to take a decision on the hike at its next meeting.

Highly placed sources in the Urban Development (UD) Department told The Hindu that the file pertaining to the water board’s proposal on water tariff hike, which was with the Chief Minister, was sent back to the department on Friday with a note stating that the BWSSB could take a decision in this regard.

Sources said when the water tariff was revised in 2006, the government had directed the board to take a decision on hiking water charges as and when power charges were hiked. “However, the board did not take this direction seriously and had repeatedly sought the government’s permission to revise water charges. Although power tariff had been hiked several times, water charges had not been revised since 2006,” the sources said.

“The board, which met two days ago, is likely to meet again in the next 15 days to decide on the tariff hike. The hike is imminent now as the board requires more revenue for taking up new projects and operating and maintaining existing ones,” the sources said.

Meeting on supply

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister convened a meeting of city MLAs and MPs and officials from BWSSB, BBMP and BDA at his home office Krishna on Friday to discuss issues relating to water supply and sanitation in the city.

After the MLAs pointed out that staff shortage in BWSSB was affecting the citizens indirectly, the Chief Minister directed the BWSSB to recruit the required staff within six months, according to sources.

The Chief Minister directed the officials to check water wastage, especially the 48 per cent of water that goes unaccounted for. “If this wastage is checked, we will have additional water to meet the city’s requirement,” the Chief Minister said.

Manual scavenging

Taking serious note of reports regarding manual scavenging on the city’s outskirts, the Chief Minister directed the BWSSB to use machines to clean manholes and sanitary lines. There should be one jetting machine for every ward, he said.

According to sources, the MLAs pointed out that the board owed nearly Rs. 170 crore to Bescom towards power charges of borewells. Officials urged the Chief Minister to either get the amount waived or release additional grants to BWSSB to clear this.

The Chief Minister, who was informed about the drinking water crisis in the 110 villages that were added to the erstwhile BMP along with the seven city municipal councils and one town municipal council, assured the board that the Irrigation Department would allocate additional water from the Cauvery for drinking purposes.

He asked the officials to prepare a detailed project report at the earliest on water supply and under ground drainage system in these villages.

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