Ctg WASA mulling hike in water prices

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Publication Date: 10 November, 2015
Media: The Independent
Even though the Chittagong Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (CWASA) has not yet raised water supply and is unable to fulfill demand on that front, it is mulling hiking water prices from January 1, 2016.
The decision has been taken in the 30th Board meeting of CWASA held on November 7. With the five per cent hike, 88 per cent domestic users who are currently paying Tk. 7.52 for 1,000 litre will have to shell out Tk. 7.61 for the same volume of water. Whereas, 12 per cent commercial users who are currently spending Tk. 20.53 for 1,000 litre will have to cough up Tk. 21.56 for the same volume.
Assistant Engineer, Water Wax, Mode-2, CWASA, Abdur Rouf, said, “Price of urgent water which is selling through vehicles will not increase. Currently, for a vehicle containing 10,000 litre water, the rate is Tk. 1,400 for normal delivery and Tk. 2,500 for urgent delivery while for a vehicle carrying 6,000 litre, the going rate is Tk. 1,100 for normal delivery and Tk. 2,000 for urgent delivery.”
Adbur said that there is a mismatch between demand and supply where CWASA can now supply only 210 million litre of water daily (which is only 42 per cent of the total demand) as against total demand of 500 million litre water per day. While CWASA has been unable to increase water supply, they have still given new connections including 10,015 domestic and 141 commercial-industrial between October 2014 and September 2015. Till September this year, CWASA had a total of 61,717 domestic connections and 7,387 commercial and industrial connections.
Before this too, CWASA had hiked the price of water on February 1, 2014 and January 1, 2015. In fact, CWASA has been hiking the price by five per cent every year since 2004. At the same time, it has been giving 200-250 new connections on an average every month. CWASA earns an average Tk. 4.17 to Tk. 4.26 crore every month in water bills.
Meanwhile, city dwellers are having a tough time due to shortage of water, with some areas getting water only one day a week. Those living in Lalkhan Bazaar, Chawak Bazaar, Bakalia and Mehedibag are especially facing difficulties. Forced to store water in plastic drums or large earthenware, residents of these areas are struggling every day just to get a few litres of water.
Aklima Begum, a housewife in Halishahar, said, “We get water only one day in the whole week, however, we have to pay bills. 0Without ensuring adequate water supply, CWASA is increasing prices, which is unfair. If they can ensure supply, we have nothing to say.”
However, Chief Engineer (Acting), CWASA, Jane Alam Bhuiyan, said they have been thinking of hiking water prices because of increased costs of producing water. Currently, CWASA incurs a production cost of Tk. 15 per 1,000 litre water while the average selling price (domestic and commercial) is Tk. 14.02 per 1,000 litre. CWASA subsidises the average selling price to Tk. 6.16 per 1,000 litre due to which it has to compensate over Tk 3.5 crore every month for production of water, said Jane.
Chief Revenue Officer of CWASA Abdullah Al Mamun said, “We have disconnected 5,262 domestic and non-domestic connections this year of clients who fail to pay their dues on time.”
President of the Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Chittagong unit S.M. Nazer Hossain said, “At a time when two-third of the city’s residents are not getting water, the decision to increase price without ensuring 100 per cent water supply is totally unacceptable and will add to the woes of low-income groups. Before taking such a decision, the authority should talk to city residents.”
Secretary of CWASA, Shamsuddoha, told The Independent, “We have not been able to increase water prices at the same clip as prices of essential items, staff wages and electricity bills which is why we have incurred a huge loss. We have sent many letters to hike water prices, but we could not get any authentic reply from the ministries. After starting our Karnaphuli Water Supply Project, we hope to ensure water supply to all residents.”
It may be noted that CWASA had launched the Karnaphuli Water Supply Project in 2006 with a view to supplying 136 million per day (MLD) to Chittagong city residents. The project has already been delayed thrice with December 2015 as the current deadline for completion.
Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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