STATE GOVERNMENT and Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) today sought time to submit reply to public interest litigation, which has challenged Indore Municipal Corporation’s decision to increase water tariff from Rs 60 to Rs 150 from October 1.
Conceding their plea, Indore High Court division bench comprising Justice Deepak Mishra and Justice A M Sapre have ordered to list the hearing on September 20.
Petitioner Satya Pal Anand submitted that meters should be installed before recovering the inflated water tariff. Adding that it would be difficult for poor to pay the hiked tax, the PIL insisted that it was the duty of the State Government and civic bodies to supply unpolluted water at inexpensive rates.
Quoting Section 222 of Act in his support, the litigant said that the Municipal Commissioner should first provide meter and then charge the bill accordingly. Terming the forthcoming tariff as unreasonable, the petition added that IMC had no right to impose tax independently without authority of state legislature as that is tantamount to creating a sovereign within a sovereign, which is impermissible in Constitution.
Recommending formation of a Water Board, the PIL dismissed the notion that water tariffs need to be increased for bearing the project cost of Narmada phase III and added that if IMC is unable to bear the cost, then State Government should fund the losses so as to make water inexpensive for residents.
The PIL pointed out that former mayor Kailash Vijayvargiya in an affidavit had told the court that IMC was unable to bear Narmada Phase III project cost and it should be handed over to State Government. “Then why is Vijayvargiya, who is reportedly close to the Chief Minister, does not press for the same now,” Anand demanded to know.
The writ also points out at step-motherly treatment given to Indore where its water tariffs are higher compared to Bhopal, Jabalpur and Gwalior. IMC has been asked to place comparative water tariff of three cities during the next hearing.