It seems the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is leaving no stone unturned to spend the taxpayer’s money. It will soon spend a whopping Rs 240 crore to install 1.87 lakh mechanical meters in slums across the city. The move comes in the wake of the civic body’s struggle to install automatic meter-reading machines (AMRs). More than 35,000 AMRs are yet to be installed. Though the decision to buy the new meters was taken after last year’s budget, the tenders were invited only recently.
On January 29, mid-day had reported how the civic body is struggling to install, read and maintain the AMR meters as contractors have refused to take readings. The civic body has already imposed a penalty of Rs 3.5 crore on the contractors over the last five years.
The estimated cost of buying 1.87 lakh meters is Rs 120 crore. An additional R120 crore will be spent on the installation and maintenance for these meters for five years. The corporation has decided to procure four types of mechanical meters, which are 15mm, 20mm, 25mm and 40mm respectively. In slums, different sizes of meters have to be installed as the areas
The civic body is also in the process of installing the GIS (Geological Information System) mapping of all its water connections so that they get to know the exact location. At present, this is a difficult task as the exact map of all connections is unavailable. The new meters will be installed only after the GIS mapping of all the connections is complete.
Safe and cheap
The idea of mechanical meters was introduced to avoid theft and damage since it has very less resale value in market. In case of AMRs, there are high chances of theft. AMRs are costly and to avoid loss, the BMC has exempted slums. According to BMC there are 3.77 lakh water meters in the city out of which around 1 lakh are slum connections.
An officer from water department said, on condition of anonymity, “We have not yet finished installing AMRs. Yet the project has already cost us R250 crore. Why do we need to spend more public money on new meters if a project is already underway? The problem of finding exact location to install water meter might hit this project also.”
Stringent rules for contractors
However, the civic body claims that this time they have taken precautions to ensure that the common man’s money is not wasted. The payment to the contractors will be made only after the installation work has been completed.
“If mechanical meters are found tampered, damaged or stolen, then we would recover the cost from the owner of the meters,” said a senior officer, who is in charge of the project, on condition of anonymity.
When contacted, Chief Hydraulic Engineer, Ramesh Bambale said, “We will ensure that this time the maintenance and installation work of new mechanical meters is followed strictly. If contractors are found to be negligent, we will forfeit their
deposit money .”