The Punjab cabinet on Tuesday approved the introduction of a scheme to include water supply and sewerage charges in the electricity bills of urban consumers in the state.
Under the new system, a fixed amount based on slabs of power consumption would be added to power bills. No separate bill for water supply and sewerage would be generated. The charges collected by the power department on account of water supply and sewerage from consumers would be further given to the respective municipal corporations and committees. At present, water supply and sewerage bills are based on the actual metered reading.
The new system, though mooted three years ago, was taken to the cabinet only after the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD’s) alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), agreed to it. Ironically, BJP minister Anil Joshi, who heads the local bodies department (which had proposed the system), had to face probing questions from his party’s minister Madan Mohan Mittal during the cabinet meeting. Mittal asked Joshi if he had done his homework well and whether the new system, like in the case of property tax, will burden urban voters or not. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, too, asked Joshi if the necessary meetings in the run-up to the decision had taken place.
The new system of linking water and sewerage charges with electricity bills is expected to generate collections to the tune of Rs 502 crore annually.
“This consumer friendly system would not only prove to be cost-effective but also save a lot of manpower involved in duplication of work,” said Joshi.
It was also decided that each household, shop, hotel etc. would install a water meter till March 31, 2017, and each industrial unit till March 31, 2016.
In the case of special categories such as hotels, multiplexes, malls, nursing homes, private educational institutions, marriage palaces, clubs etc, 2% of the electricity bill would be charged. After the installation of water meters, those consumers of residential and non-residential categories who consume more than 20 kilolitres of water every month would be charged Rs 7.60 (Rs 3.80 each for water and sewerage) per kilolitre. For special categories, after the water meters are installed, the 2% collection would be stopped and they would be charged at the rate of Rs 15.20 (Rs 7.60 each for water and sewerage) per kilolitre.