Chennaiites pay less water tax

Taxpayers in Chennai are a lucky lot. Probably enjoying one of the best (civic) amenities in comparison with several other parts of TN, people residing in the state capital still pay less tax than a resident of nearby Ambattur and Tambaram municipalities.

The stark contrast was unearthed by the CAG in his annual audit report tabled in the Assembly on Wednesday last.

A performance audit of Minjur desalination project by the CAG revealed that residents of the two municipalities pay Rs 65 as monthly water charge, while those in Chennai pay a flat Rs 50 per month for residential connections.

The auditors have attributed this disparity to failure of Chennai metropolitan water supply and sewerage board (CMWSSB) in revising the water tax.

The report also states that CMWSSB has not revised water charges since 1998 even as the SFC recommended water tax revision in 2007-08 fiscal and thereafter once in three years.

Curiously, the board had assured at the time of the formulation of Minjur desalination project that it would revise tariff.

The board had not revised the water tax despite the state government, in July 2009, accepting to upward tariff revision.

In fact, the state government bore the entire cost of procurement of water from Chennai water desalination limited (CWDL) on behalf of CMWSSB, which resulted in an additional financial burden of Rs 180 crore to the government.

While refusing to hike water charge, the CMWSSB, in July 2010, had informed the government that it was unlikely to generate additional revenue from the Minjur project and it sought Rs 15 crore per month from the State to pay water charge to CWDL.

The board also admitted in 2010 that its revenue receipts were not sufficient to meet the revenue expenditure.

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