IEP CHANDIGARH JULY 17, 2022
Haryana Government, under the leadership of Chief Minister, Sh. Manohar Lal has established Haryana Water Resources Authority (HWRA) in the year 2020 for the conservation and sustainable use of water resources in the State. The bulk water tariff was earlier determined by the Government before the Authority came into being, now the mandate to decide the bulk water tariff is vested with the Authority.
The Tariff revision is a long drawn process and on prior occasion tariff has been revised in the year 2012 and lately in 2018 by the Government and latest revision of bulk rates has been done by the Authority vide recent notification dated 15.07.2022.
Chairperson, Haryana Water Resources Authority, Smt. Keshni Anand Arora, informed that earlier the mandate of the Authority was to recommend the Bulk Water Tariff and recently the Government has passed the Amendment Act, 2022 under which the Authority has been given the mandate to fix the Bulk Water Tariff. This signifies the commitment of the government for sustainable use of water resources in the state. The Government also mandates the Authority for the enforcement and implementation of the Treated Waste Water Policy of the Government. The tariff has been decided on the principles of economy, efficiency, equity and sustainability for bulk use of surface water and treated wastewater. The tariff is based on volumetric measurement of water consumption and will be designed suitably.
Smt. Keshni Anand Arora further informed that the Authority consulted with the Department of Irrigation and Water Resources (I&WRD) and Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) to decide the bulk water and treated wastewater tariff by the Authority. She added that the decision was taken so as to arrive at a more optimal and rational proposed tariff.
Chief Executive Officer, Haryana Water Resources Authority, Dr. Satbir Singh Kadian, while discussing the details of revised water rates said that rate revision is a normal procedure that must be amended over time while taking intervention elements such as availability, usage, and supply of water resources into consideration. First the rates were revised in the year 2012, then in 2018 and after the establishment of the authority in the year 2020 now the authority has the mandate to fix the tariff. A notification explaining the justification for the tariff increase has been made available. It is predicted that other industries, power plants, and bulk consumers would pay 2.35 times more in 2018 than they did in 2012, while the beverage and bottling sectors will pay roughly 5 times more. The fold was revised down to about 5 times for drinking water, 2.35 times for other industries and power plants and bulk users. Now, the department has proposed to increase the tariff by 2.5 times in case of bulk water supply to industries and 5.0 times for drinking water, as compared to the prevailing tariff of 2018.
He added that the Cost Inflation Index (CII) has increased by at least 45 points i.e. from 272 in FY 2017-2018 to 317 in FY 2021-2022 (base FY 2001-2002 with CII 100). He further stated that these rates are decided on the proposals submitted by the concerned departments i.e. Department of Irrigation and Public Health Engineering. He further added that these rates will be applicable from August 1, 2022. Any complaint relating to these rates may be made applicable to the Government under the provisions of the amended Act. These rates are applicable to users other than agriculture.
In this regard, it is important to note that the average revenue valuation for the last three years, 2019–20, 2020–21, and 2021–2022, is approximately Rs. 184.11 crore, which is approximately Rs. 1658.09 crore and only 11.10 percent of the expenditure. This is according to the 2018 tariff (currently in effect).
Further, as per the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission, a State should set up a Water Regulatory Authority by 2011-12 for the purpose of entitlement and release of grants and should collect at least 50% of the water charges mandated by the Authority. In addition, about 30% of the water is lost during transit and about 57% of the water in the state is used for irrigation purposes. However, since due to the economic condition of the farmers and for food security in the nation, the revenue to be recovered from them cannot be increased, the Authority decided that the required amount will be cross-subsidised from other bulk users.
It is in the interest of efficient functioning of the department and stability in the long run that the water tariff is revised so that the targeted recovery is achieved by at least 50% of the cost. On one hand, IWRD does not have sufficient resources to operate and maintain its network. For such reasons, the matter of upward revision in bulk water tariff is the need of the hour.
While the official spokesperson of the authority shared that according to the data, 85 out of 141 blocks in Haryana have been overexploited groundwater. Clean water from open taps is being taken to fill the ponds, while some people are paying for water tankers due to paucity of water. Thus, there is a need to sensitize people, promote effective use of water and this can be achieved by bringing about behavioral change of users of bulk water.
He further added that the increase in bulk tariff will help in curbing uncontrolled water use and discourage wastage of water and encourage the use of treated waste water especially in industry and power sector. It will also provide adequate funds for operation, maintenance and repair of water resources projects as expenditure on irrigation management is more than recovery of water charges. This paradoxical situation is adversely affecting the performance of existing and new projects.