Arun Kumar, TNN Aug 31, 2011, 03.40pm IST
PATNA: The state government is considering a proposal to levy water tax on users. Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) minister Chandramohan Rai on Wednesday said that with a view to checking the misuse of water, the proposal is being discussed at the department level.
He, however, categorically said that interests of the vulnerable sections of society – dalits, mahadalits and slum dwellers — will be protected and they will be exempted from paying water tax. In the proposed Drinking Water and Sanitation policy of the state government, there is a provision for financial sustainability of the safe drinking water supply projects, Rai said.
Ranjan Kumar, who works on water and sanitation issues in urban areas of several districts of the state with the purpose of ensuring access to sustainable water and sanitation services to urban poor, said that he had organized a daylong discussion on the state government’s Drinking Water and Sanitation Policy on August 29 to make the state policy more people-friendly, responsive and comprehensive for addressing the future challenges in the state.
The discussion was attended by people working on water and sanitation issues, academics, social activists, subject experts and representatives of civil society organizations besides PHED minister Rai and Magsaysay awardee water activist Rajendra Singh. On this occasion too, the PHED minister, in his speech, had mentioned about the proposal to levy water tax. In course of the daylong discussion, the issue of water tax figured. But there were two opinions on it. A sizeable section was against levying water tax, whereas another section was in favour of a balanced approach to it.
Even those who were in support of water tax wanted it to be executed with a rider. Those in favour said that water tax should be levied only in urban areas, not in rural areas. Besides, high tax should be imposed on water used for industrial purposes.