Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s special drive to recover money for unpaid water bills is bearing fruit. Five days after MiD DAY highlighted the issue on March 24 (‘Maharashtra CM fails to pay Rs 1.32 lakh water bill’), Prithviraj Chavan and his deputy Ajit Pawar settled the arrears for their bungalows that were pending for the last five months. But the battle is only half won.
The civic body is still finding it difficult to get Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), railways and other state and central government offices to pay up for their overdue water bills. The outstanding amount from the water bill of Varsha bungalow where the Chief Minister resides – was Rs 1, 31,823, while Rs 44,567 was to be recovered for Ajit Pawar’s Devgiri bungalow.
Between February 15 and March 31, the corporation had severed over 7,800 water connections of residential, commercial and industrial areas. Before the commencement of the drive, BMC was targeting to recover Rs 900 crore from private and government agencies, of which more than 550 crore were to be paid by private residential and commercial buildings.
The civic body is terming its drive successful, as it has salvaged 30 to 40 per cent of this Rs 550 crore. Almost all the 7,800 connections have been restored with partial or full payments, and a huge amount of recovery is expected in the coming weeks, assured BMC officials. A senior BMC officer, requesting anonymity, confirmed, “Almost all the severed connections have been reinstated, as no one can stay without water for a long time and we managed to recover most of the outstanding amount.
The problem that we face is of retrieving money from government bodies, as we cannot cut their water supply. But things will hopefully change soon with frequent follow-ups and meetings with them.” BMC hydraulic engineer Ramesh Bambale, said, “The drive was successful. I won’t be able to quote exact amounts, as this campaign was carried out at ward levels. We will collate the data soon.”
Time to pay up
Amount owed by various government bodies:
Western Railway: Rs 105 crore
BEST: Rs 76.31 crore
MbPT: Rs 12.42 crore
Central govt: Rs 28.24 crore
Central Railway: Rs 59.06 crore
MHADA: Rs 44.80 crore
State govt: Rs 67.64 crore