Water tariff hike in pipeline

Kathmandu, May 25:

Despite its inability to significantly improve the water supply situation in the valley, the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL) is all set to raise water tariff.

The KUKL has proposed to the government to hike the tariff and the Water Fixation Tariff Commission, which is authorised to oversee the water tariff, is likely to bow to the pressure from the donors for a tariff hike.

As per the agreement with the Asian Development Bank, the chief financier for the Melamchi Water Supply Project, the government will have to hike water tariff before it receives more money for the project. “There is no alternative to hiking water tariff because we cannot keep working at the present tariff,” Gyanesh Nanda Bajracharya, deputy general manager of the KUKL, told The Himalayan Times.

“The social, political and economic situation of the country has changed a lot in the past four years but water tariff has remained the same,” he said, adding that the semi-government body would do its best to ensure that the consumers do not feel unwanted financial burden but at the same time press the KUKL to work hard to improve its service.

He admitted that the KUKL has not been able to improve the water supply situation in Kathmandu in the past three months because of the onset of dry season. Spokesperson for the Ministry of the Physical Planning Ishwari Paudyal said a nominal hike in water tariff is in the pipeline.

“We are planning for dual tariff system where the users will have to pay according to the quantity of water they consume. Large users will have to pay more while smaller consumers will be given subsidy,” he said. Currently, a consumer pays Rs 50 per month for consuming a minimum quota of 10,000 litres of water and Rs 15 extra is charged for every 1,000 litres of water exceeding the minimum quota.

It is estimated that the tariff in the Kathmandu Valley will be hiked by 27 per cent every year.

Prakash Amatya, the executive director of NGO Forum for Urban Water and Sanitation, stresses that hike in water tariff may be necessary but it should follow the government rules and KUKL may have to face criticism if it gives in to donors’ pressure.