Taxpayers, industries to challenge hike in court

The hike in water tariff affected by the State government and endorsed by the Mysore City Corporation (MCC), will be challenged in the High Court by the city-based industries and taxpayers’ association.

Suresh Kumar Jain, general secretary, Mysore Industries Association, told The Hindu that the revised water tariff was exorbitantly high; industries were being charged Rs. 28 a kilolitre up to 10,000 litres of consumption, and tariffs were capped at Rs. 52 a kilolitre for consumption over 30,000 litres.

Mr. Jain said the formalities had been completed on Saturday. Advocates would file a petition in the High Court next week, challenging the MCC order and government notification, and seeking a rollback.

“J.K. Tyres, Mysore Polymers and Falcon Tyres have taken the lead in filing the petition supported by the Mysore Industries Association. The main demand is to seek a separate slab for industries,” said Mr. Jain.

“At present industries are being charged at commercial rates and the association has argued that they want a separate slab at reasonable rates. Although the water consumption of industries may be high, it is untreated water and used purely for production purposes,” he added.

The association and other industries argued that the existing slab rates were “economically unviable, hurtful to the prospects of all categories of industries. Not only is the water tariff high, but the supply is also irregular”.

The association claimed the government had acted in contravention to a report filed by a committee constituted under the chairmanship of the Commissioner, Directorate of Urban Development, which had recommended that the government fix the tariff for industries at Rs. 13 a kilolitre.

Taxpayers’ move

Meanwhile, the Federation of Taxpayers’ Associations is also approaching the High Court on behalf of the general public.

H.V.S. Murthy, advocate and general secretary of the federation, told The Hindu that the original order issued by the government to the local bodies, stipulating a hike, was in itself illegal as it contravened the Karnataka Municipal Council Act, which confers such rights (to hike the tariff) to local bodies.

He claimed the government had “usurped MCC’s rights”. The original order had also stipulated a uniform slab rate for all corporations in the State except for the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike.

“The hike should be based on the actual procurement and distribution charges incurred by local bodies. These vary from town to town and city to city. Mysore being very close to two major sources of water – the Cauvery and the Kapila – procurement and distribution charges cannot be as high as it is for corporations which have no water sources near them,” Mr. Murthy said.

The present arrangement in Mysore, where a private body (Jamshedpur Utilities and Company Private Limited) was put in charge of distribution, is at variance with the corporation’s avowed objective of ensuring civic amenities to the public.

The distribution system should be vested solely with the MCC and Vani Vilas Water Works, according to Mr. Murthy.

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