RAWALPINDI, Feb 7: The residents of Rawalpindi cantonment will have to pay 50 per cent more for the water they consume from March.

Sources said Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) has decided to increase the water charges from next month under the excuse of dealing with the increased tariff of electricity and diesel.

The RCB officials have completed their homework to increase the tariff and are waiting for formal approval from the board in a meeting scheduled next week under the chairmanship of Rawalpindi Station Commander Brigadier Zaman Nasarullah Khan Niazi.

The water charges for five marla houses will go up from Rs160 per month to Rs240 per month; for seven marla houses from Rs240 to Rs360 per month; for 10 marla houses from Rs300 to Rs450 per month and for one kanal and above houses from Rs560 to Rs840 per month.Talking to Dawn, RCB Cantonment Executive Officer Rana Manzoor Ahmed Khan said the tariff of electricity had substantially increased making the civic body have difficulty in managing the gap between operational cost and income from water supply service.

He said the RCB requested the federal government to provide Rs250 million to improve the water supply system and give subsidy to the residents for consuming clean drinking water in the cantonment area. However, it turned down the request and asked to arrange the money from its own resources. The civic body was left with no option but to increase the water tariff.

He said the RCB received nine million gallon water per day (MGD) from Khanpur Dam, five MGD from its 53 tube wells against the daily needs of 19 MGD of the area. He added that due to difficult terrain of cantonment areas, the RCB had to supply water through water pumps and tube wells and for that it needed electricity.

He said due to electricity loadshedding, the civic body used generators to supply water on time to the residents. The additional cost of petrol and diesel had also put extra pressure on the civic body’s pocket.

The official clarified that cantonment board earned Rs70 million annually from water charges and spent Rs120 million for the operation of tube wells and water pumps. He said there was a gap of Rs50 million and it was likely to become Rs100 million in the coming days due to increased tariff of electricity.

If the RCB did not increase charges, it would have to surrender the ongoing development work in different areas. He said due to limited resources, the RCB was already facing difficulty in carrying out development schemes.

On the other hand, sources told Dawn that board was already supplying less water to the residents than their needs. Areas like Gowalmandi, Hafizabad, Misrial Road, Allahabad, Tench Bhatta, and Saddar were being supplied water on alternate days, even in winter.

They said total water consumers in the cantonment board’s jurisdiction were 50,000 and out of this, 20,000 consumers were not paying their monthly tariff. Sources disclosed the board was suffering a loss of Rs20 million due to non-payment of water tariff by consumers, mostly commercial ones.

When contacted for comments on water shortage and non-payment by consumers, Rana Manzoor said he had directed the supply department to provide water to the residents according to their needs and bring more people into tax net to minimise the burden on those who paid their bills regularly.

He assured that by the end of current fiscal year, situation would improve as the board was also planning to offer incentives for those who would regularise their illegal water connections.