The Karnataka government, which claims it is investment-friendly, has dealt a shock to industries by hiking water tariff by 100 times (10,000%). The government cited recommendations by the Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Ltd (KBJNL) under the Major Irrigation Department, to jack up rates, which will be effective from May 28, 2018.
According to the proceedings of the state government, a copy of which is with DH, the government revised the tariff of water drawn from reservoirs, lakes, tanks and canals by industries across the state. According to the new tariff, the cost of one million cubic feet of water has been revised from Rs 3,200 to Rs 3 lakh rupees for all industrial uses. Similarly, the tariff for drawing water from natural sources has also been hiked from Rs 1,800 to Rs 1.50 lakh per one million cubic feet of water.
Confirming the hike, a senior KBJNL official said, “There is a need to raise money for irrigation projects. Currently, there is a fund crunch to even manage operational and maintenance costs of the projects. Hence, it was decided to revise the tariff for industrial use. The National and State Water policy of 2012 allows for revision of the tariff. Accordingly, the core committee made the proposal and the government cleared it.”
The eight-member core committee of KBJNL comprises officials, representatives from Water Resources Development Organisation and Advanced Centre for Integrated Water Resource Management. “It took us three years to come up with the proposal and it has been implemented after 10 years. The tariffs will not be revised for the next four years. The committee had recommended revising the rates from Rs 1,800 to Rs 3,200 mcft first, but subsequently it was revised to Rs 3 lakh,” yet another core committee member defended.
In its recommendations, the committee stated at least Rs 95 crore is needed annually to meet the expenses incurred on irrigation projects. There are 19 irrigation projects with KBJNL, 96 with Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd, three with the Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Ltd and two with the Visvesvaraya Jala Nigam Ltd.
Caught off guard, industry czars claimed that they were not consulted about the revision. The iron and steel industry, one of the biggest guzzlers of water in Karnataka, has reacted strongly against the government order saying it is not “justified”.
“The move to increase the water tariff by 100 times (10,000%) is “unscientific” and not maintainable. The government, in fact, should charge industries differently. There should be a lower tariff on industries which have invested on creating pipeline infrastructure to transport water,” Vinod Nowal, deputy managing director, JSW Steel said.