Pensioners far outnumber employees at Chennai Metro Water

Residents of Chennai, more so who live in bungalows should be ready to pay higher charges to the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) also known as Metro Water, if one goes by the White Paper presented by the Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan.

The total number of pensioners far outnumber the serving employees at the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB), the White Paper said.

The Paper also said the total dues for CMWSSB as on March 31, 2021 stands at Rs 548.91 crore.

The White Paper on Tamil Nadu government’s finances was released by Rajan on Monday.

According to it, the total number of CMWSSB pensioners as on March 31 stood at 5,818 while the number of serving employees stood at 2,621.

While the employee cost at the end of FY21 stands at Rs 140.50 crore the cost of pensions, including family pension was Rs 127.92 crore.

The other major expense heads for CMWSSB operation and maintenance Rs 286.44 crore, power, cost of desalination water Rs 497.68 crore.

The outstanding liabilities of CMWSSB as on March 31 are Rs 1,909.88 crore which includes Rs 1,522.16 crore towards outstanding loans from the government.

The main contributing factor to increasing deficit is the gross under recovery of the operational costs. While the operational cost is about Rs 36.58 per kilo litre, the cost recovery (excluding Government Grant) is only Rs 14.08 per kl which works out to only 38 per cent only based on the Revised Estimates 2020-21, the White Paper said.

The annual tariff revision was not carried out in May 2019 for domestic and partly commercial consumers due to the drought situation and annual tariff revision was not effected in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

Tax revenue is a major source of revenue to CMWSSB as it collects seven per cent of Annual Value of property as Water and Sewerage tax from consumers.

Despite Greater Chennai Corporation revising the annual value of property tax during 2018-19, this was withheld subsequently affecting tax revenue.

The White Paper commented that the water charges are unfair and regressive favouring those who live in large houses and bungalows pay a flat fee without a meter, as opposed to the middle class who live in apartments and pay on the basis of bulk water metering, let alone the poor who use much less water per-capita independent of metering.

According to Finance Minister Rajan, the poor financial condition cannot postpone the reforms.