PANAJI: After the increased in excise duty on liquor, the BJP-led coalition government on Wednesday hiked water tariffs in a bid to tide over precarious financial crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic even as the opposition parties demanded immediate roll back of the water tariff hike. The new water tariff came into force from April 1, 2020.
Speaking to reporters, former Deputy Chief Minister and MGP MLA Sudin Dhavlikar on Wednesday said that though the government had hiked diesel and luqor prices, the notification hiking water tariff by more than 50 per cent for domestic consumers and more than 60 per cent for commercial and others was surprising. He said the watr tariff hike for domestic consumers would break the backbone of the common people who were struggling due to coronavirus pandemic.
Giving more details, Dhavlikar said that there are four slabs for domestic consumers ie 0-15 cubic metres; 15 to 25 cubic metre; 25 to 50 cubic metre and above 50 cubic metre. The tariff which for the first slab 0-15 cubic metre which was Rs 2.05 has been hiked to Rs 3.05 cubic metre; for 15-25 cub metre hiked from Rs 5 to Rs 9; for 20-50 cubic metre it was hiked from Rs 10 to Rs 15 and for above 50 cubic metre it was increased from Rs 15 to Rs 25 cubic metre. Due to this, a domestic consumer who used to get a monthly bill of Rs Rs 142.50 will now receive a bill of Rs 297.50 per month.
Dhavlikar said though water tariff of all types of industries such as hotels, restaurants, hospitals, dispensaries, hostels, fishing boat owners had been hiked, the biggest hike was for small scale industries where the minimum charges had been hiked from Rs 400 to Rs 1800 per month. The government had also increased charges for water connection and meter rent, he added.
"I do not understand how these water tariffs were hiked at this juncture as it was most inappropriate. Though the government had hiked water tariff as part of revenue mobilisation what about people who have been affected due to COVID-19?" asked Dhavlikar and demanded that the government should withdraw the hike in water tariff.
He also appealed to the consumers to pay their water bills under protect and demanded that the Goa government should adopt austerity measures such as pruning of the size of the cabinet and chairmanship of semi-government corporations to mitigate the adverse impact of the COVID-19 on the State's economy.
Roll back, water, diesel, liquor hike: Kamat
Leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat on Wednesday demanded that the government should immediately roll back increase in tariffs of water, power and liquor and show sensitivity towards common man who was already burdened with loss of business and was under pressure as no ray of hope was visible for the moment for revival of economy.
The decision of the Goa government to increase tariffs of diesel and now water and liquor was highly condemnable. Government needs to show sympathy towards the common man who is actually looking out for help and assistance from the government in this testing times, he said.
Kamat once again urged the Chief Minister to release a White Paper on financial condition of the State, which will in a way help the government to get suggestions from people on measures to be adopted to bring fiscal discipline.
The government must cut on all wasteful expenditure such as hosting mega events, constructing monuments and start austerity measures, rather than burdening the common man, said Kamat.