Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 7, (BPNS )
The Kerala Water Authority (KWA) on Tuesday released the new tariff rate for all categories of consumers. It was on February 3 that the state government decided to increase the water charge by one paise per liter, citing various reasons. The revised tariff had a retrospective effect from February 3.
At the same time, the Opposition staged a walkout in the Assembly on Tuesday alleging that the government had passed the buck of its financial mismanagement on the common man. The Opposition also won a favorable ruling from Speaker AN Shamseer as it questioned the propriety of increasing the tariff without informing the House first.
The KWA considers 1,000 liters as one unit. Thus, the water charge is expected to go up from Rs 50 to Rs 550 under various slabs.
As per the revised tariff, up to 5,000 liters Rs 14.41 per 1,000 liters with a minimum Rs 72.05 has been fixed. For above 5,000 to 10,000 liters, the variable charge is Rs 72.05 plus Rs 14.41 per 1,000 liters.
However, no water charges will be collected from BPL families who consume up to 15,000 liters per month. The exemption has also been granted to differently-abled and marginalized people.
“KWA had to bear huge expenses while ensuring potable water distribution. It also had arrears to pay to KSEB and contractors doing maintenance work. The cost involved with paying PF and other benefits to employees is also high. It was against this context that a revision of tariff was decided,” reads an excerpt of the statement given by the government in the Assembly.
As per the stat, KWA owes Rs 1,263.64 crores to KSEB as electricity charges and Rs 137.06 crores to contractors who did maintenance work. It also had to clear arrears involved with PF, pension, and other benefits to employees since 2018.
Meanwhile, it also came to light that an amount of Rs 1,591.80 crores stands as due to KWA. It includes,
Local Self Government Department (public tapes) – Rs 955.55 crores
Government offices – Rs 222.12 crores
Domestic – Rs 190.63 crores
‘Should have informed the House first’
The Opposition which is accusing the government for At the Assembly, the Opposition had tried to highlight the ‘hidden danger’ behind the water tariff hike. Congress MLA M Vincent who moved the adjournment motion against the tariff hike said that it is ‘unmatched cruelty’ and ‘it is a hike unheard of in Kerala’. He also added that the one-paise argument is nothing but deception.
The Opposition also scored brownie points as the Speaker ruled that ‘it would have been ideal if the decision (tariff hike) was announced in the Assembly first.’
It was Congress MLA AP Anilkumar who raised a point of order under Rule 303 questioning why the government moved ahead with an administrative order on tariff hikes when the Assembly was in session.