The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has come up with a long-term solution to supply adequate water supply to the citizens, but it will come at a hefty price.
The BMC, in its annual budget on Tuesday, raised water charges and also made a provision to hike them annually by up to 8%.
The civic body has proposed that societies and residential buildings pay Rs4 per 1,000 litres from the current Rs3.50. Industrial units will have to pay Rs40 per 1,000 litres from Rs25, while racecourses and 3-star hotels will have to shell out Rs60 per 1,000 litres from Rs 38.
“Our rates are the lowest in the world and the hike was necessary to assure regular supply,” claimed municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar.
He said the expenditure of new water supply, sewerage and sanitation projects worked out to be around Rs42,580 crore in the next 14 years, up to 2025-26.
According to Kumar, the BMC needs to ensure adequate internal financial resources to meet capital investments, increasing operations, maintenance and repayment of future loans to carry out projects.
“We want to increase the rates proportionally in view of the expenditure,” he added.
Till now, any hike needed the nod of the standing committee, but if the proposal is passed then the power is transferred to the municipal commissioner.
If passed, this would mean that a family of five, with a total consumption of 750 litres per day, will have to spend Rs90 a month as opposed to the earlier Rs79 a month.
The new rates would be applicable from June 1.
However, according to water expert Madhav Chitale, such hikes are justified. “It is actually late. Reforms are the need of the hour. All costs have increased and people should pay for the water they use,” said Chitale.
Apart from that, the BMC is working on several water-related projects, including constructing tunnels across the city as they have huge water carrying capacity and minimal leakages.
While 37.55km tunnel work is already in progress at Mahim, Powai and Malabar Hill areas, another 14.1km is being proposed in Chembur-Trombay and Chembur-Wadala-Parel belt.
In addition, rehabilitation of 118km of main water pipelines would be carried out at the rate of Rs218.91 crore.
Another ambitious project is to extend the 24x7 water supply pilot project at Mulund to Bhandup, Vikhroli and Ghatkopar areas.
The BMC claims it is ensuring quality control by using high quality chlorine as well as regular sampling of water. Also, encroachments along pipelines are being removed and CCTVs being installed. “Such measures require money,” said Chitale.
However, despite all the promises, citizens are not happy. “Most buildings still depend on tanker water and even then the quality is very questionable. There is no justification for the hike,” said Nirmal Mishra, a resident of Four Bungalows, Andheri (West).