Though Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation commissioner Sitaram Kunte stated in his budget speech that no new taxes would be imposed as per the civic budget 2013-14, Mumbaikars, whether in chawls or plush duplexes, are still going to have to fork out extra money for the most basic amenity. The civic administration has decided to increase water charges by 8% starting July. In fact, you can brace yourself for a hike in water charges of at least 8% every year from now, as has been consented to by the elected representatives.
Last year, the standing committee permitted the administration to increase water charges by up to 8% without consent from the representatives. If the administration wants to raise charges by over 8%, however, they need the standing committee’s nod. “When we can raise charges by up to 8% every year without any political hassle, why would we go beyond that?” said a senior civic official on the condition of anonymity.
According to the current system, the civic body incurs a cost of Rs 11 in transportation and purification of water from the dams. It is supplied at the rate of Rs 4.50, Rs 3 and Rs 30 to residential complexes, chawls and hotels respectively. These rates will undergo a hike of 8%. As such, residential complexes will end up paying Rs 5.40 starting July. The administration has cited the losses incurred by the water department to jack up water charges. Because of the hike in water charges, the BMC’s income will shoot up by at least Rs 200 crore.
An official said, “The BMC’s water department budget was in deficit in 2011-12, as the income from the additional 455 million litres of water supply from Middle Vaitarna project did not materialise because of delays in the project’s completion. However, the loss has gone up to Rs 2,330 crore which was balanced by tapping into reserve funds.” Additional Municipal Commissioner Rajiv Jalota, in charge of the budget, said, “This is not a new tax. These are additional charges that will be imposed every July.”
More water for Mumbaikars
The BMC also plans to increase per day per capita water supply to 135 litres from the current 90 litres. “Water supply at a normative demand of 135 litres per capita per day could not be released so far due to a late and inadequate monsoon in 2012. The increased volume will be supplied from October, 2013 after the full commissioning of the Middle Vaitarna project,” said BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte.