The move of the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) to increase water and sewer charges from April 1 has evoked mixed response from the people.
Although it would be a minimal increase, it would add to the overall burden in the wake of various government agencies recently increasing taxes and charges, the residents said.
The water board planned to revise the water and sewer tariff by 5% for residential and 10% for commercial buildings from the next fiscal year. The tariff was previously revised in May 2018. It was to be increased by 5% annually, which did not come into effect because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While agreeing with the board’s reasoning for increasing the tariff citing mounting operation costs and revenue loss, the residents said the water utility should focus on providing equitable water supply to all areas and address sewage-related issues.
N.V. Ranganayakalu, a resident of Kotturpuram, said some pockets remained without piped water supply despite copious resources and tax paid regularly. For instance, Thiruvalluvar Nagar 4th Street and South Lock Street did not receive supply through pipelines. People in Naidu Street receive less piped water.
V. Jayaraman of T. Nagar wanted digital water meters to be introduced in core parts of the city to charge according to consumption instead of periodical increase.
Move termed unfair
People in north Chennai said flat rates both for large residential buildings in core areas and middle and lower income groups was unfair. Instead of blanket hike for all domestic consumers, Earnest Paul, president, North Chennai Residents’ Welfare Association, said the government must subsidise or provide water free of cost for lower income group consumers.
“A marginal increase too is a challenge for such consumers in north Chennai, especially in the wake of increase in other taxes and charges and essential commodities,” he said.
Residents in Anna Nagar Western Extension said they were often charged exorbitantly, especially after the installation of digital meters and sought transparency in billing mechanism. Issues related to double billing of the same buildings need to be sorted out.
S.D. Mohan, treasurer, Ashanidhi Apartments Residents Welfare Association, Officers Colony, said: “There was a huge jump in water bill compared to manual meters. We got normal charges after closing the water supply valve. The board must specify on water usage.”
Moreover, the apartment had received two bills, including one in the name of previous land owner. “We were asked to pay arrears for many years amounting to over ₹1 lakh. We have given a letter to the board to update records of new assessment,” he said.