Ludhiana: MC House approve 60% hike in water-sewer user charges
The House has also revoked the exemption on water-sewer user charges being given to houses on area up to 125 square yards. Now, the exemption will be available only for single-storey houses, on area up to 50 square yards.Updated: Nov 11, 2020, 00:58 IST
Bad news for residents as the Ludhiana municipal corporation (MC) has passed a resolution for a hike of around 60% in water-sewer user charges in the city. The decision was taken during the General House meeting held at the Rose Garden on Tuesday afternoon.
The House has also revoked the exemption on water-sewer user charges being given to houses on area up to 125 square yards. Now, the exemption will be available only for single-storey houses, on area up to 50 square yards.
Until now, the MC had been charging users according to the fixed slab rates. The system will continue until the water-metering system is introduced in the city. Once metering is introduced, residents will be paying a two-part tariff, including fixed charges and consumptions charges.
The newly passed resolution also allows for a 3% annual hike in slab rates, with the possibility of further revision once 24/7 water supply starts in the city. Residents will also have to install water meters within the timeframe given by the MC, failing which they will be penalised.
Speaking on the hike, mayor Balkar Sandhu said, “It was necessary to increase the tariff as it is one of the conditions imposed by the World Bank before funding the 24/7 surface water supply project for the city. The resolutions approved by the House will be forwarded to the local bodies department for final approval.”
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillors, including Sunita Rani, opposed the hike, stating that the residents are already reeling under economic hardships due to the ongoing pandemic.
No zero-hour allowed, councillors irked
While the meeting lasted for over two hours, the agendas were approved in about half an hour. Even some Congress councillors, including Pallavi Vinayak, were unable to raise the issues of their wards. Only two councillors from each party were allowed to speak during the meeting. Mayor Sandhu said that zero hour could not be allowed as they had to wind up the meeting quickly due to Covid-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, two leaders, including Anil Malhotra and Balwinder Shanky, were shown the way out of the meeting as they were participating in place of their councillor wives.
Congress councillors lock horns over
contentious resolution; LIP stages protest
High drama was witnessed over the formation of a committee to take a decision on the allotment of 1,600 yards of land reserved for a park in Sarabha Nagar area to a person, in exchange for a land in the same area.
Congress councillors Mamta Ashu and Amrit Varsha Rampal came into loggerheads over the issue as Rampal stood against the decision to form a committee while Ashu was in favour of it. Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) councillors, led by Sawarndep Chahal, also opposed the resolution, stating that this would encourage illegal encroachments. Chahal sat in protest over the issue during the meeting itself.
Private company for collection of charges:
With MC officials failing to achieve the recovery targets in the past, the House has also given a nod for appointing a private company for recovery of water-sewer charges, property tax etc. The company will also check illegal water-sewer connections in the city. As per information, MC has failed to recover over 200 crore from the residents.
User charges for firms using plastic packaging
The fund-starved MC has decided to impose user charges on multinational and home delivery companies, including Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Zomato and Swiggy, and liqour vendors for using plastic packaging to deliver their products as the plastic is ultimately disposed off by the civic body.
Reconstruction of MC Zone A
building and multi-storey parking:
The MC has also approved a resolution for reconstruction of MC Zone A office and a multi-storey parking on 3.5 acres in the old city market area. The MC will invite proposals from different companies willing to take up the project.
Bring back JEs, SDOs of O&M cell
Different councillors, including leader of Opposition Harbhajan Singh Dang, Jaspal Giaspura, Rakesh Prashar among others demanded that the MC should bring back outsourced JEs and SDOs of O&M Cell as the branch is facing acute shortage of staff. For the last three months, the MC has been mulling on whether to extend their contract or not.
Illegal connections choking sewer lines
With residents at different parts of the city raising hue and cry over choked sewer lines, the councillors slammed the MC for its failure to take action against illegal colonies and their sewer connections, which have been attached to the MC sewer lines especially in outer wards of the city.
The matter was raised by SAD councillor Jaspal Giaspura who accused the MC building branch officials of being hand-in-glove with inhabitants of illegal colonies. Congress councillor Pal Singh Grewal even named a former SAD minister who got the sewer connections of colonies, falling under GLADA, attached with the MC sewer lines. The councillors said that this is increasing pressure on MC sewer lines and MC should collect sharing charges from GLADA.
LIP councillor Swarandeep Singh Chahal raised the issue of non-functional streetlights in various parts of the city. Meanwhile, the House approved a resolution to get over 15, 000 LED streetlights installed at the missing points.
Publishers, printers to face
heat over illegal hoardings
With complaints against illegal hoardings continuing to pour in, the MC has decided to go tough on printers and publishers of illegal hoardings. While the printers and publishers will have to pay a penalty up to ₹50, 000, MC superintendents will be charged ₹5, 000 a day if they fail to remove the illegal hoardings in their jurisdiction within 24 hours.
The MC approved 21 out of the total 31 agendas taken up during the meeting. These include:
- Project to install biogas plant at Bhattian sewer treatment plant
- Providing 2 acres for transforming a slaughterhouse into an export-oriented unit
- Waiving off water bills for LIG flats (81 yards) situated in Urban estate, Phase-2, Dugri.
- Waiving off water-sewer charges for the dyeing industry for 70 days of lockdown.
- Identification of slum area under Punjab slum dwellers (proprietary rights act) 2020
- Buddha Nullah rejuvenation project
- Filling up of over 100 vacant MC posts on outsourcing basis
- Punjab municipal services improvement project, including surface water supply project