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Army push for slash in water supply bill

Moved by an appeal from Fort William, the mayor is mulling a lower rate for the supply of filtered water to all government offices, both central and state, and educational institutions.

The revised rate, to be announced shortly, will be Rs 5 per 1,000 litres instead of the present commercial rate of Rs 10 per kilolitre. It will be a new slab in the existing rates for industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) connections.

“We will insert this in the rules of water levy since it has no special provision to collect filtered water charges from defence establishments and government offices at a rate other than commercial,” he said.

Besides, Mukherjee plans to keep government-sponsored schools, colleges and institutions outside his water tax dragnet for the moment.

“But the educational institutions which collect fat tution fees every month from students and do not pay their teachers and employees according to government payscales will have to cough up water charges at commercial rates,” said Mukherjee.

The mayor’s rethink over the rate for charges on filtered water supplied to non-domestic but non-commercial establishments started when joint secretary, home, G.P. Chakravorty forwarded a letter written by Brigadier M. Khajuria to municipal commissioner Debasis Som earlier in August.

The defence authorities in the letter requested the state government to reconsider the rate charged for filtered water supplied to defence establishments in the city.

Earlier, following Mukherjee’s discussion with Union defence minister George Fernandes, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) had sent a demand notice of Rs 2.42 crore to the defence authorities for supplying filtered water to 10 defence establishments in the city since 1987.

The defence authorities paid Rs 77.85 lakh in the first instalment to the CMC in June.

But they had been reluctant to accept military functions as commercial activities and hence requested a different rate for the use of filtered water supplied by the CMC.

The list of 10 establishments included Fort William, Gun & Shell factory (Dum Dum), Hastings, Turf View housing complex on AJC Bose Road, Command Hospital and the barracks at Ballygunge Circular Road.

“We have held meetings with the defence authorities. They have agreed to take bulk connections and pay according to metered readings of consumption, provided the rate is revised for them,” said mayoral council member, water supply, Sovan Chatterjee.

According to the civic water supply department’s estimate, the daily requirement of the defence establishments in the city will be around 1,000 kilolitres a day while their annual commitment to the CMC will be to the tune of Rs 20 lakh.

The civic authorities have also decided to renew their demand of payment for the supply of filtered water to Raj Bhavan.

“We supply about 500 kilolitres of filtered water to Raj Bhavan daily. Earlier, we sent a bill for Rs 84,000 for connection charges to Raj Bhavan but no reply has been received to date,” said chief engineer, water supply, Dibyendu Roychaudhury.

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