State eyes Rs 710 cr from water tariff hike

State eyes Rs 710 cr from water tariff hike

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The Water Resources Department has proposed to mobilise Rs 709.87 crore revenue from the revision of water tariff for all four types of users.

This amount is 48.5% more than the existing collection from all the four users — irrigation, industrial, hydropower and domestic sectors. Presently, these sectors are collectively mobilising Rs 477.56 crore.

The proposed collection of water charges is 28% higher than the operation & maintenance (O&M) cost of Rs 555.47 crore, estimated by the department for a period of five years beginning from 2015-16.

According to proceedings of the fourth meeting of the committee constituted for revision of water rates in the state for various sectors held on February 23, 2016 (a copy of the minutes is accessed by DH), the department has estimated a 16.3% rise in O&M variable cost at Rs 555.47 crore for the three irrigation companies.

The O&M cost of Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd (KNNL) has been estimated at Rs 308.81 crore, up 16.3% from Rs 265.50 crore. The Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Ltd (KBJNL) has estimated the O&M cost at Rs 152.76 crore, up 16.2% from Rs 131.34 crore. The Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Ltd (CNNL) has estimated 16.31% rise in its O&M cost at Rs 93.89 crore from Rs 80.72 crore for five years between 2015 and 2020.

During the discussion of the Core Committee meeting held on October 20, 2015, all three irrigation companies were instructed to submit details to recover 20% O&M charges from irrigation sector, 10% from drinking water sector, 50% from industrial and 20% from hydropower sectors.

The three corporations had projected collection of Rs 156.90 crore from irrigation sector, Rs 412.68 crore from industrial sector, Rs 85.87 crore from hydropower sector and Rs 54.42 crore from domestic.

Subsequently, on May 28, the rates of water used from the sources under Water Resources Department and corporation boards as per Karnataka Irrigation (Levy of water rates) Amendment Rules 2018, were revised. If water has been supplied from channels, lakes, reservoirs etc, Rs 3 lakh royalty per MCFT of water was proposed and if water has been supplied from natural waterways, rivers, streams Rs 1.50 lakh royalty per MCFT of water was fixed.

While the industries in the state have strongly protested against the revised water tariff, irrigation experts have partially expressed mixed reactions.

“No doubt, there is a need for upper revision in water tariff. But, such a steep hike is not justifiable,” Captain S Raja Rao, irrigation expert and former irrigation secretary opined. He said the government should have gradually hiked water tariff over five to 10 years. “The government should set up a regulatory commission for water tariff like in the power sector,” he said.

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