Aurangabad: The Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) – a quasi-judicial body acting as the water regulator for the state – has released the Draft Revised Bulk Water Tariff for the control period 2020-2023.
While the proposed new tariff criteria cover domestic and industrial supply, water management experts have questioned the validity of the data that served as the basis for the revised charges, in addition to raising other objections.
While the tariff system has considered a volumetric concept, water management expert Pradeep Purandare has alleged that there are no adequate and reliable measuring devices for the same.
“Evaporation and transport losses, encroachment of live and dead storage due to siltation as well as general water theft have not been taken into account. The draft criteria for the bulk water tariff can therefore be called a classic example of the brazen use of unscientific data, he said, referring to the latest and past reports on the state of irrigation and water audit published by the State Water Resources Department (WRD).
Purandare also questioned whether the WRD and MWRRA were serious about the tariff issue.
“The MWRRA set the criteria for determining the bulk water tariff for the first time during the control period 2010 to 2013. The water charges for the period 2013 to 2016 were only revised ‘in January 2018 and the government extended the fixed tariff for the period of 2010 to 2013. Later, the MWRRA issued revised water charges for the control period of 2017 to 2020,” he said .
According to the draft tariff, the local authorities, including the municipality, the water tariff will be 16% of the applicable tariff in proportion to the shared cost for the irrigation infrastructure. The applicable rate will be 125% of the basic rate (BR) for municipal corporations, 90% of BR for other urban local authorities and 75% for gram panchayats.
For industries, the water rate will also be 16% of the rate applicable in proportion to the shared cost. Water rights campaigner Abhijit Dhanorkar said the MWRRA should prioritize important focus areas while spelling out the bulk water tariff.
“As a regulator, the MWRRA must push for the modernization of the irrigation system to make it compatible with emerging demands. It should emphasize the improvement of water control for the regulation of water levels, flows and flow measurement. Needless to say, implementing water laws in letter and spirit is necessary for the benefit of all stakeholders,” he said.
An official email sent to MWRRA asking for its position on comments made by experts and activists went unanswered until late Tuesday evening. “The draft in question is available on the official MWRRA website for public comment until February 24,” an official notification read.