Mumbai: Contractors refuse to take readings, will only install water meters

The contractors were asked to install, take readings from, and maintain Automated Meter Reading meters, but say they will only do the installation; BMC has levied a penalty of Rs 3.5 crore

The ambitious project of installing AMR (Automated Meter Reading) meters in Mumbai to get accurate water supply readings has hit a roadblock, since contractors appointed for installing them have refused to take down readings or maintain them.

The AMR meters will give accurate reading of water consumption and help the BMC know the exact amount supplied to consumers. File pic for representation
The AMR meters will give accurate reading of water consumption and help the BMC know the exact amount supplied to consumers. File pic for representation

Taking serious note of this, the BMC has imposed penalties totalling Rs 3.5 crore on them. The installation work is expected to be completed in 2016. Under the 100% metering project of all legal connections, the civic body had purchased 1.29 lakh AMR meters at a cost of Rs 250 crore (including installation, maintenance and reading charges) seven years ago. The installation of AMRs started in 2009 and 88,481 such meters have been installed in city so far.

However, the installation was halted for a while in 2014 because the BMC did not find installing them viable in slums and then it was restricted only to residential and commercial buildings. The contracts of supply, installation, reading and maintenance of AMRs was given to three companies Pratibha in the island city, Unity in eastern suburbs and Axelia in western suburbs.

However, they are installing the AMR meters but refusing to take down readings or maintain them. A source from Water Department said, “After installation, these contractors are supposed to take down readings and maintain the meters for next five years. However, these contractors have refused to take down readings or maintain them.

They are giving lack of support from ward authorities as a reason for not doing so.” The civic body has now given responsibility of taking down readings from meters to staff from water department.
Chief Hydraulic Engineer Ramesh Bamble confirmed the penalty but did not give more information. He said, “We have fined the contractors as they had refused to take down the readings and do maintenance work.”

There are 3.27 lakh legal water connections in Mumbai. AMR meters cost BMC between Rs 4,000 and Rs 12,000 per meter and are said to give accurate reading of consumption, which will help the BMC calculate the exact amount of water supplied to consumers.

Hi-tech
The AMR’s advanced technology allows consumption data to be collected from meters automatically with a hand-held device and then the details can be transferred to a central database for billing. AMR allows billing based on almost real-time consumption instead of depending on predicted readings.

Installation of meters

18,404
In the island city

47,866
In the Western suburbs

22,211
In the Eastern suburbs

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