OVERRULING PROTESTS by PWD Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya loyalists, the BJP district core committee gave the green signal for hiking domestic water tax rates from Rs 60 to Rs 150 during a stormy four-hour-long meet late on Wednesday evening.
The final clearance will be granted at the committee’s next meeting tentatively scheduled for September 12. The core committee, however, deferred objections to the 2021 City Development Plan (draft). These, too, will now be taken up at the next meeting.
District in-charge Minister Himmat Kothari, MP Sumitra Mahajan, Mayor Dr Uma Shashi Sharma, MLA Laxman Singh Gaud, City BJP chief Ramesh Mendola, IMC Chairman Shankar Lalwani and former MLA Gopi Nema were among those present on the occasion.
Fissures in the local BJP unit surfaced once again during the meet with Mendola, Lalwani, Nema and others aligned with Vijayvargiya opposing the water tax hike, while Sumitra Mahajan and Laxman Singh Gaud argued that upping the tax ante was unavoidable.
The ADB, pointed out Sumitra, had made a hike in water taxes a precondition for the Rs 641.25 crore loan being used to bankroll the 360 mld Narmada-III project. Both Mendola and Lalwani, however, asserted that taxes should either remain unchanged or be hiked in a phased manner.
This, though, led Sumitra Mahajan and Gaud to point out that piecemeal hikes would only give the Opposition Congress a stick to beat the BJP with every time the taxes were raised.
Earlier, heated exchanges were witnessed between Mendola and Gaud after the former castigated the Mayor for the pathetic condition of the City’s roads and declared that civic governance had hit an all-time low during her tenure. The City BJP president declared that the IMC should first improve its performance on sanitation, water and road fronts before proposing a hike in taxation.
The accusations led MP Sumitra Mahajan and others to rise to the Mayor’s defence resulting in heated exchanges between the two groups in general, and Gaud and Mendola in particular.
According to saffron party sources, the arguments between the two soon degenerated into a slanging contest and the duo only cooled down following the intervention of Nema, Bhanwar Singh and other office-bearers. The status of Bond roads, Manikbag overbridge and other proposed development schemes were among other issues that came up for discussion during the meeting, which concluded at midnight.