News Brief

‘Khata-Khat' Continues: After Petrol, Water To Be More Expensive In Bengaluru As State Finds Ways To Fund Rahul Gandhi’s Guarantees

Swarajya Staff

Jun 19, 2024, 02:53 PM | Updated 02:57 PM IST

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar.
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar.

Karnataka government is mulling hiking the water tariff in Bengaluru.

Deputy Chief Minister and Bengaluru Development Minister D K Shivakumar indicated a possible hike in the monthly water charges due to financial strains faced by the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB).

In a statement on Tuesday (18 June), Shivakumar highlighted that water tariffs in Bengaluru have not been raised in the past 14 years, which has led to significant financial challenges for the BWSSB.

"Drinking water charges have not been hiked in Bengaluru for the last 14 years. It has become imperative to increase the water tariff as the water board is not able to pay the electricity bill. It is also difficult to pay the salaries of the staff,” Shivakumar said, Deccan Herald reported.

The minister said Bengaluru needs drinking water.

“A gas cylinder, which cost Rs 400, now stands at Rs 1,000. Petrol price has gone up from Rs 75 to Rs 100. Should the water tariff be increased or not?” he asked.

However, BJP, which has been protesting against fuel price hike by Siddaramaiah government, has attacked the Congress and Rahul Gandhi for the proposed water tariff hike.

"Khata Khat Khata Khat Taka Tak Taka Tak… Third Time Fail Rahul Gandhi’s Congress is ripping apart Kannadigas. Steep hike in petrol and diesel prices, electricity and bus fares, registration fees and now water tariff. He is the mehangai (inflation) man," BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya wrote on X.

This comes as the state government on 15 June hiked the sales tax on fuel - petrol and diesel, by Rs 3 and Rs 3.5, respectively.

On 15 June, the Government of Karnataka issued a notification stating the increase in the sales tax on fuel — petrol and diesel, by Rs 3 and Rs 3.5 respectively.

The notification saw changes to the Karnataka Sales Tax Act, where the tax for petrol was increased from 25.92 per cent to 29.84 per cent and from 14.34 per cent to 18.44 per cent for diesel.

The opposition in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal (Secular), criticised the move to hike fuel prices and held statewide protests against it.

State Minister for Commerce and Industries, M B Patil, justified the move saying that the government needs money to fund the five guarantees in the state and bring in more development.

CM Siddaramaiah also defended the move by stating that the prices are comparatively lower in Karnataka and that similar-sized economies like Maharashtra have it costlier.

The opposition BJP and JD(S) have opposed the decision saying that essential commodities and public transport prices will also increase.

"It is causing the rise in prices. The Modi government is trying to control the prices. But the Karnataka government has suddenly increased the prices, so the prices of essential commodities used in daily life will increase. They (the state government) should take it back," Union Minister Pralhad Joshi said

The BJP has also mentioned that the funds required for infrastructure development and payment of salaries will be affected. Last year, Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar confirmed the same, when many MLAs complained about lack of funds for developmental activities. BJP Karnataka chief B Y Vijayendra threatened state-wide protests if the revised numbers were not rolled back.

He added that Siddaramaiah is not ready to admit to the poor fiscal condition of the state, but the recent hike in fuel prices confirms it. The BJP is also dubbing this as 'revenge' on voters as the NDA won 19 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state and are calling it 'Khata Khat Tax' — a term frequently used by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

This financial year, the Congress government set aside Rs 52,009 crore to fund the five guarantees, announced by Rahul Gandhi ahead of state Assembly elections, which include free electricity, monthly assistance to women, free ration (rice), a stipend for unemployed youth and free public transport (intra-state and city buses) for women.

Apart from the increase in fuel prices, the Karnataka government also increased the fee for engineering courses in private colleges by ten per cent. Electricity prices were increased by Rs 2.89 the day after 200 units of free electricity was announced by the government in the state.

The BJP has also called out the Congress for hiking stamp duty prices up to 500 per cent and increasing the lifetime tax on high-end EVs. Apart from the above, the Karnataka government also increased the milk prices by three rupees in order to "help the farmers."

Also Read: "Can No More See Suffering Of Delhi People": AAP Minister Atishi To Sit On Indefinite Fast, Blames Haryana For Water Crisis

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