The Chandigarh administration, after facing resistance from various quarters, is planning to roll-back the hike in water tariffs that was introduced in September last year. Water tariff was hiked by 200 times in September last year.
Sources said that now when the Municipal Corporation polls are just five months away, the BJP was constantly in talks with the administration to slash down the rates.
A senior officer of the Chandigarh administration confirmed that “the rates may be slashed soon”, while adding that the sewerage cess which residents pay on the water bills would also be reduced from the present 30 per cent to five per cent.
While speaking to The Indian Express, Chandigarh BJP chief Arun Sood said, “ We are in talks with the administration and the rates will be slashed back to what it was earlier. In fact, residents now will have to pay lesser than earlier as the sewer cess too is being reduced from 30 per cent to 5 per cent.”
The BJP has also asked the administration if the hiked charges that were paid by the residents can be adjusted. “We have demanded that the hiked rates which people paid, be adjusted in the coming bills,” Sood said.
The UT Administration had been resisting a roll-back of the hiked tariffs despite facing resistance from various quarters.
On March 9 this year, six months after the 200 per cent hike had been introduced, the councillors had resolved in the General House that the increased tariff be rolled back. The councillors had then resolved that at least till the time the Covid-19 pandemic was raging, the 2011 rates for water tariffs may be in force. After the pandemic is over, restructuring of two slabs can be done, along with a reduction in sewerage cess.
The House had stated that even after the Covid period is over, there would be a reduction in rates of at least two slabs — in the 31-60 KL slab, where the rate would be reduced from Rs 12 per KL to Rs 9 per KL and in the slab of above 60 KL, where the rate be reduced from Rs 24 per KL to Rs 16 per KL. It was also resolved that sewerage cess be reduced from 30 per cent to 5 per cent.
The Congress, meanwhile, had called the roll-back a mere eyewash by stating that it was the BJP itself which hiked the rates and “now they were pretending to understand the pain of people”.
Official records available stated that the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation is incurring an expenditure of Rs 215 crore per year on water supply and sewerage at present.
The Chief Engineer had also mentioned before the General House that Municipal Corporation is incurring Rs 215 crore on maintenance of water supply and sewage facilities to Chandigarh and 22 villages that are under its control.
Municipal Commissioner KK Yadav had, however, in a note sent to the administration said that there will be a loss of Rs 48 crore if the hiked tariff is rolled back.