‘New tariff system won’t help curb water wastage’

The Pune Municipal Corporation in its general body meeting may have approved the implementation of “telescopic water tariff system” to discourage the ‘excessive use’ of water,but experts and activists have raised serious doubts whether it will be of much help.

Written by Atikh Rashid | Published: May 21, 2012 1:12 am

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in its general body meeting may have approved the implementation of “telescopic water tariff system” to discourage the ‘excessive use’ of water,but experts and activists have raised serious doubts whether it will be of much help. They believe that the system will instead prompt affluent families to use more water. In fact,they say,one can’t even call it telespopic tariff system.

On Friday,the general body passed a resolution under which 150 litres of water per person will be supplied to each family. The norm defines a five-member family as a unit,thus making it 750 litres of water per family. As long as a family uses this much,no extra charges will be imposed. For additional usage of water,Rs 33 will be charged for every 1,000 litres. PMC had also been at the receiving end for using more water than its quota. The irrigation department has earmarked 11.5 TMC water for Pune,but the city draws over 14 TMC.

According to activist and experts,the system has many flaws. They feel that water meters should also be installed at slums along with other households as it will help in establishing the distribution pattern of water in different areas and underline the dismal water distribution in slums,contrary to the general perception.

“We need to establish a water distribution system which follows the principle of equitable distribution and equitable charges. The proposed format will lead to excessive water use in affluent areas like Pune Camp,Koregaon Park,Deccan,Erandwane. Rs 33 for 1,000 litres is not a high price at all. I have stong doubts if this system will contribute to curbing water wastage,” said Parineeta Dandekar of South Asia Network on Dams,Rivers & People,Pune (SANDRP).

According to Pranjal Dixit,who works with the Pune-based NGO Prayas and has undertaken research on water tariffing,while water meters will help in identifying leakages and implementing water auditing,the telescopic tariff system can’t do anything to curb superfluous usage of water.

Dixit says the proposed format will do injustice to families that have more than five members as well as housing societies. “Families with more than five members will have to unnecessarily pay more. Also,each household in the housing society will end up paying more as these societies draw water from a single connection. This system has created problems in cities where it was implemented,” said Dixit.

According to Dixit,a telescopic water tariff system should have four-five slabs for increasing water usage. Families pay their bills according to the water rates in the slabs they fall under. “The proposed format can’t be called telescopic tariffing system. It’s kind of bulk tariffing,” he said.

According to a PMC official,another proposal for water tariffing,which has four slabs,is pending with the standing committee.

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