Valvemen turn into water mafia

H2woe: Many BWSSB staff demand illegal gratification, claim residents

Valvemen turn into water mafia

There have been numerous complaints against the valvemen alleging that they don’t turn on the supply on time and that they demand bribe from consumers. 

“I have not received water for three days now, as the valveman here demands money and controls the water supply,” says Sanjay, a resident of Saraswathipuram. 

“Many residents want water and don't mind giving him a few bucks. But for how long can we encourage this? There has to be a solution,” Sanjay fumes. He said his area received water only for 15-20 minutes, whereas the neighbouring areas receive supply for over two hours.

The citizens have begun to resist. Recently, in Yeshwanthpur, a valveman was beaten up for withholding water. “We had announced a water shutdown for some major work. Not aware of it, many of them gathered at the sub-division office, threw my vehicle on the road, and tried to assault me before I was rescued by a senior officer,” said the valveman.

According to Rudre Gowda, president, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board Employees’ Association, there are only 190 regular BWSSB valvemen for 28 sub-divisions and 180 of them have been outsourced from different agencies. “Regular employees normally do not take any tips or bribes. Hired workers are actually causing problems and most of them have been appointed in the areas newly added to BBMP,” said Gowda.

Since 2008, the BWSSB has not appointed regular staff against vacancies existing or coming up, but hires workers from private agencies.

T Venkataraju, BWSSB engineer-in-chief, said that he was aware of valvemen taking bribes. 

“There are many valvemen who are supplying water, especially to apartments, after receiving some tips from them. Citizens should take the initiative and stop encouraging such activities and report it to the engineer concerned,” he said. 

Venkataraju said many residents are unaware of the schedule of water supply. To streamline the supply and to bring transparency, the Board is preparing a time-table which will be out shortly. Residents in every area will know at what time they will receive water, he added.

BWSSB chairman P B Ramamurthy said that they are in the process of appointing new workers and in a month’s time, regular valvemen will be appointed.

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