While submitting his budget before the standing committee of Pune Municipal Corporation,the municipal commissioner has suggested an increase in the water tax on those who pay it by meter. The proposal is going to be debated at all levels and one can say that it may get defeated because of the political pressures. As this is going to be an election year,political parties are hesitant to hike civic taxes.
Common public never understands the details of the civic body budget. What they want are good roads,functional streetlights,sufficient potable water,good waste disposal system and efficient public transport system.
The municipal corporation budget cannot solve all the problems with whatever income it receives. All the city fathers across the political parties want that the income should be more than the expectations,which suits the new dream projects to attract the voters.
Past years show that no budget could fulfill the expectations of voters. For political reasons,the city fathers do not want the voters to get burdened. But,no one has the answer as to how can we get more money to complete the basic projects.
When all the developed countries have a meter system,why cant we have it here? According to city fathers,all the water meters are faulty and there is no fool proof system to correct it. So,it is better that the corporation should calculate the tax on an average basis. But do we know that the official properties are less and illegal properties are more in number. While collecting any tax,the properties owners are harassed. Do we know that when one legal property comes into an existence at least three illegal properties are erected? These properties are getting all the amenities from water to electricity,for which no one is ready to pay.
The growth of Pune city in last 10 years is around 10 per cent and the growth of population is 7 per cent. Corporation pays 60 per cent of its revenue from water charges for electricity. Corporation also pays reliability charges for continuous electricity supply. We all know the rise in electricity charges during this period. There was no rise in water charges in last 8 years. It was not in a position to add a single worker to its manpower.
We,as residents,must accept that there is a need to add more income to create additional infrastructure for the betterment of the city. The rate of the hike can be discussed but the blanket no hike in tax is going to land us in trouble. All the city fathers must take a firm stand on revising the ratable value after certain period. We as citizens should unite and put pressure on the city fathers to spend the money judiciously and create an atmosphere of transparency.
(The writer is Resident Editor of Loksatta,Pune)