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Get set to pay more for water from next year

mumbai Updated: Feb 05, 2011 00:54 IST
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You will have to pay more for water from the financial year 2012-13 because the cost of water supply projects has gone up and the water charges recovered from citizens do not cover the expenditure.

The BMC last increased water tariff in 2002.

The cost of creating new water sources such as the under-construction Middle Vaitarna dam and the Gargai and Pinjal dam projects, is expected to increase by the time they are completed and municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar believes citizens should pay more for it. “Due to an increase in operation and maintenance costs of distributing additional water and also due to debt charges, the cost of production will also increase phase-wise. To recover 100% cost, it will be necessary to increase the tariff for water supply in phases,” said Kumar while presenting the civic budget before the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee on Friday.

The BMC collects charges for supplying water and running the sewage system.

The Middle Vaitarna project has a capacity to supply 455 million litres daily and is likely to be completed by May 2012. While the Gargai project is expected to be completed in 2017, the Pinjal dam is likely to be ready in 2020.

The BMC has also proposed the Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project, a 25-year plan aimed at collecting 95% of the sewage and disposing it scientifically to maintain superior environmental standards as in other countries. This projected expenditure for this plan is Rs10,000 crore. The BMC barely manages to collect 50% of the sewage generated and a lot of it goes into the sea untreated.

“All these projects will put tremendous financial burden, the BMC will be constrained to enhance present tariff rates in the near future,” said Kumar. He also said citizens should not expect services to be free of cost.

The production cost for 1,000 litres of water was Rs5.50 in 2002 and is Rs11 now. The BMC charges Rs3.50 per 1,000 litres for residential buildings and Rs2.75 per 1,000 litres for slums and chawls. “If you cannot recover the cost of the earlier projects, you cannot create funds for future water supply projects,” Kumar said.

Kumar told the civic House that he will bring in a plan of action on increasing water tariff to recover project costs.

Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders were not too happy with the proposal to hike tariff and said that there are many other ways to raise income.

Sena corporators and standing committee chief, Rahul Shewale, and BJP corporator Ashish Shelar said they would oppose the proposed hike in water tariff.