BMC standing committee does not approve increase in telescopic charges for water consumption in Mumbai, Covid-19 expendituresUpdated: Oct 30, 2020, 00:19 IST
In its second meeting since the lockdown was imposed in March, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee on Thursday did not pass a proposal to increase water charges in the city, if Mumbaiites’ consumption increases over 150 litres per day. The committee also did not pass proposals on emergency expenditures related to the coronavirus outbreak made by the administration in the past eight months that were tabled before the committee for post-facto approval, citing lack of details about where the money was spent.
The proposal for increasing water charges was recorded by the committee to warrant the need for more water usage in households during the Covid-19 outbreak, as people required to wash hands more often, and rinse other items purchased from outside.
Called telescopic rates, the BMC presently charges citizens twice the normal rate, if water consumption is between 150 and 200 litres; three times the rate if it is between 200 and 250 litres, and four times the rate for consumption above 250 litres. The civic administration had proposed to increase these charges to four, five and six times the rate, respectively.
Ravi Raja, leader of the opposition in the standing committee, said, “All parties unanimously supported and recorded the proposal. During Covid times, it is not proper to burden Mumbaiites financially.”
Asif Zakaria, a member of the standing committee and corporator from Bandra, said, “The World Health Organization (WHO) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have directed and justified frequent washing of hands. It is obvious that water consumption will increase. But now is not the time to charge citizens more for it.”
A senior civic official from the hydraulics department, said, “Telescopic rates were approved by the standing committee in 2008, to discourage people from excessive use of water. However, despite these rates, use of water did not reduce. So the department had proposed to increase telescopic rates by four, five, and six times. Our production cost for water is presently ₹14.99 per kilolitre, and BMC charges residents ₹5.62 per kilolitre, up to consumption of 150 litres.”
The committee on Thursday also referred back proposals related to Covid-19 expenditure done by the administration so far, that had been tabled before the committee for post-facto approval. The committee noted that the proposals lacked details about how and where the money had been spent. Meanwhile, over 100 other proposals related to infrastructure work of roads, stormwater drains, gardens and other civic departments were cleared by the committee.