BWSSB repeals blanket penalty on ‘greedy’ consumers
The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) seems to have understood that its better to remove the weeds than resort
to one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to dealing with errant consumers.
It may be recalled that taking cognisance of the fact that water pilferage is a source of major revenue drain on BWSSB, a Revenue Enforcement Cell has been set up to stanch the swelling losses.
It is to be noted that a section of those taking down the meter readings of the BWSSB have always been under the eye of storm owing to them being hand-in-glove with the consumer in issuing a bill at much below the actual or recorded level. That means, the consumer would end up paying much lesser amount and the meter reader gets a small bribe in return.
To exacerbate an already grave situation, these meter readers are alleged of having tipped off the consumers of surprise inspections by their higher ups. The consumers would be advised to damage the water meter so that the visiting officers would not know their ploy. An unwitting BWSSB ends up repairing or replacing the damaged meters at its own cost and only collects the cost of the meter in cases where theft was reported.
Some other 'innovative' consumers used to regulate the meter and manipulate its running and thereby they too paid a lesser sum.
Driven to the wall BWSSB ended up imposing a penalty of Rs 5,000 on the consumers if the meter was found to be tampered with or stolen, which came into effect from January 1.
This fuelled a public outrage and questions were raised over BWSSB's rationale in imposing heavy fines on all the consumers whenever the meter was stolen or repaired for the mistakes committed by a few greedy consumers.
The exasperated consumers refused to pay the fines.
BWSSB chairman P B Ramamurthy has now directed the officials to roll back the penalty and rework the scheme. BWSSB Chief Engineer Venkatraju explained the reworked scheme: "We will continue to impose Rs 5,000 fine wherever the meters are found tampered with or damaged. But in cases where the meter is stolen and police complaint to the effect is registered we will bring it down; Rs 860 will be collected as meter cost and Rs 140 as fine."