'Even a 40% hike over 5 years won't make a difference'

Feb 06, 2013, 07:11 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

Backing the rule that allows an eight per cent hike in water charges every year, Shiv Sena leader Shailesh Phanse said that citizens could afford the sustained hike; members of the Opposition said their hands were tied

Shiv Sena yesterday backed the annual eight per cent water hike approved in last year’s BMC budget, while members of the Opposition parties said their hands were tied as the rule has already been passed in the general body meeting last year.

Sena man Shailesh Phanse, leader of the house in the BMC, said, “The citizens can afford an eight per cent hike. The charge for 1,000 litres of water is just Rs 4.50, and the hike of hardly a rupee would not burn big holes in their pockets. Even if the hike continues for another five years, a 40 per cent increase will not make much of a difference, considering the water supply that is released to the public.”

MiD DAY had reported yesterday (‘Pay 8% more for water starting July’) that the rule passed in last year’s budget to impose an eight per cent hike on water tax in July every year had been reinforced this year – a decision that ruffled feathers and detracted from the relief caused by the municipal commissioner’s promise that no new taxes would be imposed in this year’s budget. The rule, which was passed last year, says that the eight per cent hike will be constant for all consecutive years, and no consent will be required from elected representatives for the same.

As per the present system, the civic body incurs a cost of Rs 11 per 1,000 litres for transportation, purification of water from the dams, and supplies it at Rs 4.50, Rs 3 and Rs 30 to residential complexes, chawls and hotels respectively. Starting July, these rates will see an eight per cent hike every year.

While the Sena seconded the move on record, the Congress did not oppose it. Congress group leader and Opposition leader Dnyanraj Nikam said, “We did oppose it last time but the ruling party, with a majority of votes, passed the proposal and now we cannot do anything.”

Citizens are averse to this imposition, and complain that they should not have to pay increasing amounts every year for an amenity that is extremely irregular, with many pockets of the city getting water only for a few hours every day. Some citizens opined that only those areas which get round-the-clock water supply should have to pay increased taxes, while areas with sporadic water supply should keep paying according to the existing scheme.

This is a problem that needs to be corrected soon. Our society hardly receives water for two hours a day, which is insufficient for us. But we still have to pay the hiked prices. There needs to be some kind of check on these people (in the administration).
Sudhir Deshpande, resident of Andheri

A 5 per cent hike was still understandable, this an eight per cent hike, and that too every year, is not acceptable. We have no option to pay for something that is a basic necessity of life.
Vaibhavi Chitnis, resident of Kandivli

I receive water supply all 24 hours, so the hike makes sense. But I still don’t understand the reason behind a hike every year. The administration needs to provide a proper justification for the hike and explain why they need to increase charges every year.
Guncha Khare, resident of Goregaon (East)

We wish we had an option but this is the new rule and we have to follow it. It is extremely unfair of the administration to increase taxes every year. Our society doesn’t receive water all 24 hours, and yet we have to suffer the burden of increasing taxes in this inflation-hit scenario.
Sneha Sadadekar, resident of Lokhandwala

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