Guwahati, Saturday, August 10, 2019
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Objections to Jal Board’s water tariff fixation mode
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Aug 9 - Several organisations have objected to the manner in which the Guwahati Metropolitan Drinking Water and Sewerage Board, or Jal Board in short, has sought to determine the tariff for the water proposed to be supplied from the under-construction projects of the city in the coming days. But the organisations are puzzled as to how to react to the proposed tariff announced by the Jal Board, as the latter has not given any idea of the basis on which the tariff has been formulated.

Moreover, some of these organisations have asked the Jal Board to place in the public domain the citizens’ charter to enable the citizens in matters of availing the scope of sustainable water supply. Normally, the citizens’ charter of any organisation reflects the type of service to be rendered by it and mechanism of grievance redressal, among other things.

The Public Health Engineering Department’s Retired Engineers’ Forum (PREF) has maintained that while declaring the water tariff for projects of Guwahati city, the Jal Board has not indicated the basis, principles and methodology followed for fixation of such costly water tariff.

It also maintained that the Jal Board is seemingly silent about approval of the proposed tariff by any independent drinking water regulatory authority.

The PREF also pointed out that it could not make out the rationale behind fixation of two different domestic tariff by the Jal Board in the same city. For example, in the Board’s existing Zoo Road water supply scheme the water tariff is Rs 18 per kilolitre, whereas its notified minimum domestic tariff is Rs 22 per kilolitre within the range of consumption between 0 to 10,000 litres.

The notification is also not clear as to whether it would be applicable to the entire Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) area, even as asking all the consumers of the city to apply for house connection with a processing fee of Rs 500 per connection, without declaring the areas and timeline for supplying water, seems to be irrational, it said.

The PREF also said there is no mention of the duration of the water to be supplied under the schemes – that is, whether they will be supplying water round the clock or not and nothing is mentioned about the terminal head and the quality of water being supplied, among others. The Jal Board should also spell out in categorical terms what is its approach towards safeguarding the human rights of the economically weaker sections in matters of supplying water to every household, said the PREF.

It has also requested the Jal Board to extend the time-frame for submission of objections, etc., by the people on the proposed water tariff. The Jal Board has asked the people to submit their views on the proposed water tariff within 15 days from July 27, 2019.

The PREF said that it is for immediate commissioning of the city’s upcoming water supply schemes and their round the clock operation.

The Senior Engineers Forum, NE Region, has also submitted its suggestions to the Jal Board on its proposed water tariff. It has also asked the Jal Board to make public its quality of water and the water pressure at the consumer end.

It has also enquired as to whether approval of any regulatory authority has been obtained while determining the proposed water tariff. Since the projects are yet to be completed, so there is no justification for fixing a connection charge of Rs 500 from each of the consumers, it said.

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