Paying 30% cess on hiked water tariff a bane for Chandigarh residents
In addition to paying a hefty water tariff, which was hiked by 200% in September last year, residents must now also pay a sizable sewerage cess.
In the latest bills received by city residents, the 30% cess charges imposed by the municipal corporation on the water tariff have increased manifold. For instance, a resident of Sector 16, who used to pay ₹700 as sewerage cess, has to pay ₹1,538 now, more than twice.
The sewerage cess was introduced in June 2019, but with the recent water tariff hike, the real burden of the cess is being felt for the first time.
Terming the imposition of the cess as arbitrary, advocate and legal analyst Anil Malhotra of Sector 16 said, “Section 399 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, as applicable to Chandigarh, in Part B allows by-laws to be made relating to water supply, drainage and sewage disposal under 26 specified heads. However, none of them authorises or warrants levy of sewerage cess. Hence, the UT by-laws are beyond powers of the MC, unwarranted, unfounded in law and have no legal basis of levy.”
After the MC General House had passed a resolution to the effect in 2018, the MC had notified in 2019 a sewerage cess of 30% of the water charges.
In September 2020, the UT administration had notified a hike between 50% and 200% in water tariff depending upon the category of user and water consumption level. After facing a public outcry and criticism from the opposition, however, the MC General House had passed a resolution in October, asking the administration to withdraw the notification and stick to the existing rates till the pandemic lasts. The resolution was then sent to the administration for its approval.
“Even though MC officials say that the increase in water tariff ranges between 39% to 184%, it is much more because of the sewerage cess,” said RK Garg, president, Second Innings Association.
“Earlier it (cess) was fixed at ₹10 per water connection, then it was increased to ₹60. But fixing it at 30% of water charges is too steep. The MC should reverse it to fixed charges,” added Garg.