Domestic water tax up by 250 pc
Going by the conditions of ADB, the Mayor-in-Council (MiC) today cleared the decks for an across the board hike in water tax levied on domestic, commercial and industrial consumers.
The ten-member council voted to raise water tax for domestic connections from Rs 60 to Rs 150 with an incremental hike of Rs 10 every year until 2010.
Charges for commercial and industrial users were upped from Rs 150 to Rs 300 and Rs 300 to Rs 600 respectively. Both categories will have to shell out an additional Rs 50 per year until 2010.
A hike in water taxes, along with a clampdown on water freebies supplied through community taps, was one of the preconditions laid down by the ADB - the agency funding the Rs 641.25 USWEIP project that includes phase three of the Narmada project.
The decision to hike water taxes followed a stormy three-hour long meeting headed by Mayor Dr Uma Shashi at the IMC headquarters. The tax hike proposal will now be placed before the general council for approval at a meeting tentatively scheduled for August 11.
Neither Mayor Dr Uma Shashi Sharma nor Municipal Commissioner Vinod Sharma was available for comment on the issue. While the Mayor left for Mumbai en route to London shortly after the meeting, the Commissioner remained incommunicado over the phone.
Immediately after news of the tax hike leaked the Congress announced that it would determinedly oppose the move. “How can the Mayor justify raising water tax from Rs 60 to Rs 150 when the IMC supplies water for only 15 days in a month,” leader of the Opposition Suresh Minda demanded to know.
According to sources, the tax hike proposal met with equally stiff opposition from within the BJP ranks, particularly from MiC members loyal to Vijayvargiya. The reports were at least partly corroborated when first Rajendra Rathore and then Chandu Shinde were seen walking out of the mayoral auditorium site of the deliberations.
“The initial proposal was to raise the domestic taxes to Rs 180. But this elicited such a storm of protest that the council decided to pare it to Rs 150,” admitted an MiC member.
MiC Waterworks in-charge Munnalal Yadav also downplayed the issue. “The hike has only been proposed and is not yet final. We will hold discussions with party corporators before the general council is convened. The tax hike may be reduced further if they so demand,” he declared.
A TOTAL of 63 items were listed on the MiC meeting agenda. Among those that received the nod were:
1 Submissions of 28 objections to the 2021 Indore Development Plan draft
2 Construction of a slaughterhouse at Devguradia
3 Tender approval for construction of commercial structure opposite Lalbag Palace through public participation
4 Allotment of shops built in bogdas under Rajkumar railway overbridge.
5 Rental of roofs of IMC-owned shops and other properties
6 Extra charges on land/buildings hosting telecom towers