March 10, 2021 8:47:28 am
The general house of Municipal Corporation, yet again, resolved a roll back of water tariff hike. It is after six months that again this decision has been taken as UT Administration had asked them to reconsider their decision. Now,decision lies with UT Administration.
In the house meeting held Tuesday, it was resolved by the councillors that atleast till the time COVID period is on, 2011 rates of water may be in force (that is pre-notification rates) and after pandemic is over, restructuring of two slabs be done along with reduction in sewerage cess.
The UT Administration had asked the general house Municipal Corporation to reconsider the issue of complete roll back of the hiked water tariff hike.
The decision was taken amid hours of politics between BJp and Congress and slogan raising against each other.
It was also stated that after COVID period is over, new rates be applicable but with reduction in rates of two slabs that is in slab of 31- 60 KL, the rate be reduced from Rs 12 per KL to Rs 9 per KL. In the slab of above 60 KL, 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 BJP councillors said in the House that people have been suffering with high rates. At the same time, the Congress questioned saying that it was the BJP itself which hiked the rates and “now they were pretending to understand the pain of people”.
The Congress councillors said that it was an eyewash. They demanded complete rollback of the three-fold hike in water tariff.
“It was in October last year that they had resolved for a rollback. Even as it has been six months that they resolved, UT Administration didn’t roll back or react till few days back and now asked to reconsider while people continued to pay hiked rates,” Leader of Opposition Devinder Singh Babla said.
He added, “Even now they are pretending as if they have reduced the tariff while UT Administration will again take months to think on this decision. And till then, people will continue to shell out hefty amounts in the name of water bills.”
There were hours of politics with both the parties raising slogans against each other merely for photo ops.
Congress councillor Satish Kainth also sat on the floor trying to demonstrate his silent protest.
Before the discussion on water tariff was to begin, Chief Engineer Shailender briefed the House about the increasing expenditures on water and the need for water revenue.
He said that revised water tariff was enforced on September 14, 2020, and at present the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation is incurring an expenditure of Rs 215 crore per year on water supply and sewerage whereas according to revised water tariff, MC is expected to generate revenue of approximately Rs 147 crore.
It was said that further reduction in revised water tariff as resolved in table agenda during January 2020 is likely to reduce the expected revenue by Rs 11 crore and if old rates are made applicable till COVID period is over then expected revenue will be less by Rs 60 crore.
The Chief Engineer also mentioned before the General House that the Municipal Corporation is incurring Rs 215 crore on maintenance of water supply and sewage facilities to Chandigarh and 22 villages are also under the control of the Municipal Corporation.
Of the break-up of Rs 215 crore, it was said that around Rs 36 crore are in totality incurred on salaries while Rs 56 crore are incurred on wages. Along with this, Rs 14 crore are incurred on office contingency while Rs 86 crore are spent on payment of electricity bills in respect of tubewells or Kajauli waterworks while Rs 35 crore are incurred on minor works.
The agenda also mentioned that “it is evident that there is a considerable gap of expenditure over revenue and any decision regarding reduction of water tariff will also create tendency of unjustified usage of consumers. It has been desired by the government that all aspects of revenue loss need to be examined by Municipal Corporation for reconsidering its decision”.
‘My son scored less and it was because of you all’
On the issue of Congress protesting and marching to the city BJP chief’s residence to oppose the water tariff hike, state BJP chief Arun Sood said that the protest march could have been done in a peaceful manner.
“My father is unwell and there were 20 policemen outside my house. He kept asking after every few minutes as to why the police were outside the house. It was my son’s exam on Monday and despite being a topper, he got less marks in Science, all because of you,” Sood told Congress councillors.
At the same time, Congress councillor Gurbax Rawat also took out her bangles to retaliate to Sood’s previous remarks.
In response, the BJP councillors immediately got posters of various slogans against the Congress and the Congress released black flags.
Cow fee, facilities to mayor’s PA approved
The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation approved imposition of Cow Fee on beer cans. The General House also recommended that overall 5 per cent hike be levied on all liquor bottles and cans instead of Rs 5 or Rs 10.
BJP councillor and state BJP chief Arun Sood wondered why the MC can’t make it an overall 5 per cent fee instead of different amounts like Rs 5 on a beer bottle and Rs 10 on whiskey, .
“We will recommend and send this suggestion of the General House to the UT Administration,” Commissioner K K Yadav said.
Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla said that any amount of cow cess can be levied and even hiked but burden from general public in view of water tariff be taken off.
“You can even hike the cow cess on liquor for your revenue generation because it will impact one specific population but at least water tariff hike be rolled back because it affects every category of people,” Babla said in the General House.
Then Commissioner Yadav clarified that cow cess can be used only for maintenance of gaushalas and upkeep of the cows and can’t be used in any other head. “Even if we hike the cow cess by reducing the water tariff hike, we can’t use the funds collected from it for paying salaries or bills under other heads,” Commissioner Yadav said.
“It has been noticed that while levying the cow fee on beer, the fee to be collected from sale of beer can has not been included whereas it covers major sale and required to be incorporated in the notification by amendment. Beer can at Rs 5 per can that is same as cow fee levied on beer bottle please,” the agenda which is to be placed before the general house stated.
The UT Administration mentioned that cow fee was last year levied on various items, including country liquor/whisky/beer which is to be sold in MC limits of Chandigarh. It is Rs 5 per bottle beer and Rs 10 per whiskey bottle.
FACILITY TO MAYOR’s PA Approved
The UT MC General House approved facilities to Mayor’s PA under “Category A facilities”. Under category A, Arora will be entitled to reimbursement of bills for purchase of mobile phone for Rs 40,000, while in category B, it is 15,000.
Meanwhile, the MC General House also approved bifurcation of institutional and commercial buildings.
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