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Eye on Polls, Channi Govt Waives Pending Water Bills; Move to Cost Punjab Exchequer Nearly Rs 1,800 Crore

Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi said the government is waiving water bill arrears of Rs 700 crore of all cities. (Image: PTI)

Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi said the government is waiving water bill arrears of Rs 700 crore of all cities. (Image: PTI)

The Charanjit Singh Channi cabinet has also decided to fix the water tariff at Rs 50 per month with the amount waived off for a plot size of up to 125 sq yard.

In a pre-poll populist move, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Monday announced waiver of all pending water bills in both rural and urban areas. The move will further burden the exchequer by around Rs 1,800 crore — Rs 1,168 crore for rural areas and Rs 700 crore for urban areas approximately.

The financially burdened state would also have to bear the additional cost of the government’s decision that no water tariff will be levied for a plot size of up to 125 sq yard. The water tariff for all other categories of consumers has been fixed at Rs 50 per month per connection.

The Channi cabinet has also decided that in the future, the state government would pay the electricity bills of public health tube wells to supply potable water in rural and urban areas. The Congress has already declared that if voted back to power, it would ensure up to 300 units of free power.

More populist decisions are likely to made by the state’s Congress government, with opposition parties making similar promises in their manifesto as Punjab prepares for elections early next year.

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“In a bid to cover lost ground, the government has to announce these people-friendly steps to ensure that the rural and urban voters come back to the Congress fold,” said a former Punjab minister. He, however, added that the burden on the exchequer should be thought through given the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the state’s coffers.

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first published:October 18, 2021, 14:48 IST