After dilly-dallying over revision in water tariff for quite some time, the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday informed the Legislative Council that a hike is imminent as the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is facing a severe cash crunch.
Replying to BJP member Bharathi Shetty during Question Hour, he said the tariff had not been revised for the last nine years. “If we do not do it now, the Water Board will drown, as it will not be able to meet the expenditure with the current revenue.” The hike proposal is before the Water Board. “I have asked the Board to study the water tariff in other cities and come out with a feasible hike,” he said.
The Board has been seeking a “reasonable and feasible” hike for the last few years. Water charges have not been hiked since 2005 although power tariff has gone up at least nine times. According to a senior BWSSB official, while the Board’s monthly expenses are nearly Rs. 75 crore, the revenue generation is only Rs. 50 crore. Its annual power charges have gone up from Rs. 220 crore in 2005 to nearly Rs 400 crore now.‘Major surgery’
The Chief Minister said, “We are not satisfied with the performance of the Water Board. It needs major surgery. Of the total water pumped to the city, the Board can account for only 52 per cent. This has to be set right. We have already initiated measures to check wastage.”
He said the wastage is mainly because of illegal and unauthorised connections, especially in areas that fall in the erstwhile seven city municipal councils and one town municipal council. These areas now come under BBMP limits.
A disconnection squad has been set up to detect illegal connections. It has been directed to collect minimum charges from those with illegal connections till they get metered connections, the Chief Minister said.