Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 28:
The water bill in the Odisha capital might go up four times in next four years.
While the average monthly water bill is Rs 150 -250 now, the consumers need to cough up Rs 600-1000 in another four years as the government has handed over the drinking water supply to the Water Corporation (WATCO) that would take over the water supply operation from Public Health Department (PHD) at Division-1, 2 and 3 of Bhubaneswar in the first phase.
But, what concerns the management of WATCO is the financial difficulties it is going to face in the absence of government aid.
As of now, PHD has given water supply to 46000 places in and around Bhubaneswar, Khordha, and Jatni. The organization spends about Rs 56 crores a year for the job, while it earns only Rs 15 crores a year. The deficit is taken care of by the government.
The government, however, is going to stop the aid to WATCO in three years. While 100 percent of the budget would be aided by the government in the first year, it would be dropped to 50 percent in the second year and would be brought down to 25 percent in the third year. WATCO needs to fend for itself from the fourth year onwards, which makes it inevitable for the entity to go for a tariff hike up to four times to keep its finance in shape.
The water supply system of Odisha capital, which is currently being managed by PHD, is being handed over to WATCO. The proposal has already been approved by the Chief Minister. The decision, however, is awaiting approval from the cabinet following which it would be made functional.
While Chief Engineer of PHD Kshitish Ray has been deputed as the Managing Director of this new entity, the Secretary of PHD would serve as its Chief. The BMC Commissioner, BDA Vice Chairman, Representative of Finance Department, A member from Odisha water supply and sewerage board would serve on its Board of Directors.
The PHD officials responsible for ensuring smooth facilitation of water in the city, including the engineers, ground staff and executives will be sent on deputation to WATCO.