Wednesday, November 17, 2010

State flayed on water cess for industries

State flayed on water cess for industries

Staff Reporter

The Orissa Irrigation (Amendment) Rules, 2010 is heavily tilted in favour of the industries: rights activists

Dubious track record on collection of water cess from industries alleged
State told to ask industries to spell out limit for use of water

BHUBANESWAR: Even as allocation of water for industrial use causes raging controversies in the State, the government has amended the Orissa Irrigation Rules 1961 revising prices for water to be used for non-irrigational purposes.

Water rights activists and other civil society groups alleged that the State government was taking crucial policy decisions without bothering to solicit wider public views.

They said the Orissa Irrigation (Amendment) Rules, 2010 was heavily tilted in favour of the industries.
As per the rules, executive engineers would earmark the bed and off-shore lands of water source free from encumbrances and set it apart for the purpose when industrial, commercial or other establishment propose to draw or lift water from government water source.

A flow meter or measuring device certified and checked by authority concerned would be installed for accurate measurement of quantum of water for the purpose of collection.

As per price fixed by the government through the rules, Rs. 30 will be charged for manufacturing of every 1000 bricks or tiles, 25 paise per 1000 litre for bulk supply to municipalities and NAC, Rs. 7.10 per 1000 litre for construction of commercial buildings.

Meter monitoring

“The State government has left the use and monitoring of water metre to the mercy of industries or commercial establishment without bothering to put a robust monitoring mechanism in place on its own,” said Ranjan Kumar Panda, convenor of Water Initiative of Orissa.

Mr. Panda said given the dubious track records about collection of water cess from industries, it can easily be concluded that the State government gave the legal sanction on “irrational” use of water for industrial purpose.
“State government's sympathy for industries in the matter of water allocation can be gauged from the fact that a clause says government may consider granting concession on the payment of licence fee to any industrial, commercial or other establishment in pursuant to Industrial Policy Resolution,” he said.

The State government has not shown the aggressiveness in the new rules to protect and preserve it water sources which is vital for human consumption and irrigation purpose, the WIO convenor said.

The gazette notification itself admitted that no serious attempt was made to provide a platform for larger public debate on the issue. The notification says, “no objection or suggestion has been received on the said draft.”
Activists said the State government should have spelt out a limit for industries as to how much water they could use. Like electricity consumption, industries should have been asked to pay higher tariff for higher the volume of water they would use, they said.

State's Director of Hydrology and Water Planning, N. K. Mohapatra, however, said fixing price of water for industrial use would ensure water is used in efficient and rational manner. Moreover, fixation of price was meant to bridge wide gap between expenditure on maintenance and recovery of cost.

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