Only 1,674 consumers utilise offer; interest waiver still pending with State Government
Mysore/Mysuru: In July this year, the cash-strapped Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) launched a new plan to collect pending water bill dues that have reached a whopping Rs. 220 crore.
As per the scheme, if the pending bills are paid in one go, the interest on the amount will be kept in abeyance and compound interest and additional interest will not be levied on that amount. But ever since the one-time payment scheme was launched, only 1,674 consumers have availed the facility and the MCC (Vani Vilas Water Works) could collect Rs. 4,00,60,867.
This facility was available for only those who pay the pending bill in one go and only for domestic connections and not for commercial and industrial connections.
MCC authorities admit that there has been poor response from the public to the scheme. Also, the MCC had sent a proposal to the State Government to take a decision on waiving the interest levied on the water bills. The total pending water bills amount to Rs. 220 crore and of that, Rs. 146 crore is the actual bill amount while Rs. 74 crore is the interest amount. Domestic users account for more than 70 percent of the dues that amounts to Rs. 108 crore.
“The State Government is yet to take a decision on waiving the interest as it will have a State-wide ramification. It has to take a suitable decision as other City Corporations too might demand a similar interest waiver,” said MCC authorities.
The MCC has a total of 1,80,000 water connections. Of that 40,000 are illegal connections and over 12,000 have faulty metres, burdening the civic body and its water supply arm Vani Vilas Water Works.
While 270 million litres of water is supplied to the residents of Mysuru city daily, only 160 million litres are accounted for, while the remaining water is being used through illegal connections.
Both Mayor Shivakumar and MCC Commissioner G. Lakshmikantha Reddy have appealed to the people to make use of the one-time settlement. “But many consumers are asking us to give instalment facility to pay even the main water bill that they have kept pending. The MCC Council has to decide on it and the meeting that will be held on Dec. 8 will debate the issue,” Mayor Shivakumar said.
Rs. 165 to Rs. 4,505 abnormal bill
While the MCC authorities have claimed that they have smoothened and streamlined the process of water bill payment, many residents have complained that they have been receiving abnormal bills and the interest on the same is being added every month despite complaints to the Vani Vilas Water Works (VVWW) authorities.
For instance, a consumer from J.P. Nagar told SOM that they have been paying a water bill of Rs. 165 every month and in May, they received an abnormal bill of Rs. 4,505. No action was taken even when a written complaint was made to the Executive Engineer of VVWW.
“Now in the month of November, we have received a bill of Rs. 5,784 as the interest has been piling up. It has been ridiculously — as if we have defaulted — mentioned in the bill that we are not eligible for the one-time settlement scheme,” the consumer rued. “Based on the complaint and repeated follow-ups, officials from VVWW visited our house for inspection but our problem has not been solved. Now if we call the officials concerned, they are putting blame on each other and telling us that they are not sure if VVWW would slash the excess water bill that was unfairly charged on us,” the consumer said.