Convinced with the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board’s proposal seeking an upward revision of water tariff, the Urban Development Department is likely to seek Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s approval for the hike. If approved, the water tariff will be revised after a gap of eight years in the city.
However, with Lok Sabha elections round the corner, city MLAs are likely to oppose the move.
P.N. Srinivasachari, Principal Secretary (Urban Development), who is also a member of the Water Board, told The Hindu that the hike was imminent as the Board required more revenue for taking up new projects and operating and maintaining existing ones. “We are processing the proposal and will place it before the chief minister before October 11,” he said.
Official sources in the Board said they were hopeful that the hike would be approved this time. The state budget for this year had also proposed to rationalise and increase water tariff in the city.
According to a senior official, the proposal was to reduce the number of slabs from eight to three for both domestic and non-domestic connections. “Although the water charges will be different for both these categories, we plan to have common slabs for both. The plan is to charge a minimum of Rs. 10 per person per day in a family with up to five members. Although the power tariff has been hiked so many times, water chares have not been revised since 2006,” the sources said.
Explaining that the Board spends nearly Rs. 33 crore of its total revenue of Rs. 45 crore towards power charges alone, the official said a major chunk of the remainder was spent on salaries leaving a meagre amount for operation and maintenance.
Meanwhile, the hike is likely to be opposed by a few city MLAs.
“We are aware that the Board needs more revenue for its functioning. But we want the Board to first supply water regularly at a fixed time to all areas in the city and then propose a hike. There is no area in the city where water is not an issue. Will the citizens not object to the hike when they are not getting regular supply,” asked Yeshwanthpur MLA S T Somashekar, who is also the President of Bangalore Urban District Congress Committee.
Another MLA, who did not want to be named, said it would be better if the hike is postponed for the moment. “We do not know how viable it will be for a hike at this juncture, especially when the Congress has come to power after nine years in the State. Also, with Lok Sabha elections round the corner, announcing a hike may not be in favour of the government,” he added.