Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not a drop of water yet, but residents forced to pay fine

Not a drop of water yet, but residents forced to pay fine

Afshan Yasmeen

Penalty on late payment of user fee opposed

People resolve not to pay the fee till the penalty is withdrawn

Only 3,981 of 49,525 houses applied for connections

Bangalore: K. Jayaraman, a resident of Pai Layout paid a fee of Rs. 15,000 to the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) in July 2004 for a Cauvery water connection. In June 2008, his family still buys tanker water.

P.R. Krishnamoorthy, a resident of Kuvempunagar in Ramamurthynagar, paid a fee of Rs. 5,000 for his house on a 30 X 40 ft site along with a penalty of Rs. 1,800 for delayed payment in January 2007. But water is still a pipe dream.

As “beneficiaries” of the new project that will deliver 100 million litres of water from the Cauvery to 76 new wards, these individuals should have paid the user fee by July 31, 2005, the deadline set by the State Government. After the deadline, owners of houses are expected to pay a penalty of at least Rs. 100 a month depending on the size of the sites.

With the BWSSB yet to start supplying water to these new areas, residents are asking why they should pay a penalty for a service that is yet to take off.

A.V. Shama Rao, president of Ramamurthynagar Residents’ Welfare Association, said people had resolved not to pay the fee till the penalty was withdrawn.

“We did not pay the contribution initially because they had not even laid the water pipes. It is okay if you are asked to pay once the service starts. But paying the charges and a penalty for nothing is ridiculous,” Mr. Shama Rao said.

Several residents’ welfare associations of these 76 wards of the former city municipal councils of Bommanahalli, Byatarayanapura, Dasarahalli, Krishnarajapuram, Mahadevapura, Rajarajeshwaringar, Yelahanka and Kengeri are opposing the penalty. “We have submitted several representations to the authorities,” Mr. Shama Rao said. Most residents paid as soon as the scheme was announced. Later, the Board reduced the charges by Rs. 5,000.

BWSSB stand

Reacting to the complaints, BWSSB officials said the supply was delayed because owners of only 3,981 of the total 49,525 houses in the 76 wards had applied for connections.

“Of these, we have sanctioned connections to 1,527 applications as they have paid all the charges, including road-cutting and pro-rata charges. We are now supplying water only to 767 houses in areas where a majority of people have paid. We can start the supply if all the residents of a particular area pay,” a top official said.

Katta Subramanya Naidu, Minister in charge of BWSSB, told The Hindu that he would discuss the issue with the Chief Minister and try to resolve the matter.


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