New Delhi: Water to cost more from Jan 1

NEW DELHI: Get ready to pay more for water in the new year. From being the city with the lowest water tariff, Delhi is set to charge the highest (Rs 470) among the four metros for households using up more than 30 kilolitres a month.

An average middle class household using about 20 kilolitres a month will stand to shell out around Rs 100 more, starting January 1, 2010. Delhi Jal Board (DJB), in turn, will add Rs 300 crore per annum to its kitty once the tariff order comes into play.

The order will have the least impact on consumers using up to 10 kilolitres, as their volumetric charge remains unchanged at Rs 2/kl. “About 3.5 lakh consumers fall in this category, which is 20% of our entire consumer base. These include rural villages, resettlement colonies, junta flats and JJ clusters,” said an official.

As per the new plan, the initial 6,000 litres per month of water will no longer be free. This policy alone was responsible for a 12% financial loss to DJB. A new mixed use category, applicable on premises used for both domestic and commercial purposes, has been included in the order. Service charges for this category would be equal to that levied on domestic consumers though volumetric rates would be double.

The service charge for domestic consumers has been fixed according to water usage, instead of the earlier policy of charging according to area of property. For the first time, a flat rate for sewerage charges will be levied on establishments like hotels, guest houses, banquets, hospitals, nursing homes, cineplexes and malls.

Sewer maintenance charges for domestic and industrial users have been hiked from 50% of volumetric usage to 60%, with specific focus on development of sewerage infrastructure and cleaning of the Yamuna.

The last tariff increase had taken place in 2005. Sources say that despite the hike, water will continue to remain highly subsidised in the city. While DJB spends Rs 24 to treat and supply a kilolitre of water, consumers will pay around Rs 16. The average cost of a bucket of water comes to around 10 paise.

“Since 1998, when the board was established, the population has increased manifold. Metered connections have gone up from 10 lakh to 18 lakh. The piped network has gone up from 7,000km to 11,000km while water treatment capacity has increased from 2,000 million litres per day to 3,600 mld. Delhi has the highest per capita consumption of water in the country and with population growing on a daily basis, there was no way that we could have managed to provide water and sewerage to all those without increasing charges.

The structure of the new order is such that even the most common man pays according to actual consumption and there is no stress on his pocket,” said chief minister Sheila Dikshit.

At present, DJB earns Rs 450 crore but it is not sufficient to meet its expenditure that runs into a few thousand crores. “Even with the present hike, only another Rs 300 crore will come in from the 18 lakh metered connections. However, what is urgently required is that losses through theft and unmetered connections be curtailed immediately. There are so many important projects stalled because the utility has no money to pay for these,” said another official.

From TOI

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