The Trinamul Congress-controlled civic board’s decision to charge the same rate for filtered water supply — Rs 15 per 1,000 litres — to Jadavpur University and Oberoi Grand has come under flak from the Opposition.
“It’s a shame that the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) plans to charge the same rate from a five-star hotel and a cash-strapped university,” said Congress leader of the Opposition Sailen Dasgupta. “It’s a pity that the Trinamul has failed to differentiate between an educational institution and a business establishment,” echoed CPM chief whip Amal Mitra.
“I can’t help it” was what member, mayor-in-council (water supply) Sovan Chatterjee had to say in his defence. “The CMC Act, 1980, which was drafted and passed by the CPM government, suggests a single commercial rate for all industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) water connections,” he explained.
Recently, the Jadavpur University authorities had approached the civic water supply department for a filtered water connection on the campus.
According to chief engineer (water supply) Dibyendu Roychaudhury, civic engineers have already inspected the campus and advised the authorities to construct underground reservoirs at certain places.
“The university has agreed to cough up charges at a rate of Rs 15 per 1,000 litres. Initially, its daily requirement will be to the tune of 600 kilolitres and for this, the university will have to pay the CMC Rs 32 lakh every year,” Roychaudhury said. “Some other institutions have also approached us for filtered water and the CMC will consider their requests only against payment,” he added.
The CMC produces 200 million gallons of filtered water daily and costs for annual operation and maintenance of the treatment plants has been pegged at around Rs 32.5 crore. Civic officials say though the CMC produces filtered water for about 10 million people, hardly 12,000 business establishments and 25,000 households actually pay for the water they use.
Pointing out the provisions for special relief to educational institutions, municipal affairs and urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said the move to impose water charges follows the government decision to cut back on the subsidy to the CMC and other civic bodies from January. The government had earlier given Rs 106 crore to the CMC, the CMDA and the Calcutta Metropolitan Water and Sanitation Authority (CMWSA) for water-supply schemes.
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