BWSSB billing mess: Consumers levied BCC charges again

Board agrees to recalculate if proof shown, but many in the dark

BWSSB billing mess: Consumers levied BCC charges again

Stumped by their first-ever water bills, BWSSB consumers in the City’s new BBMP areas are crying foul.

Reason: Having promptly paid the Beneficiary Capital Contribution (BCC) to the Board, fixed the meters and got their connections legalised last year, they are now being levied the same charge a second time.

It is now learnt the double billing has everything to do with a major scam unearthed in the BWSSB’s Greater Bangalore Water and Sanitation Project (GBWASP) in January 2014. The Board’s audit section had found that two staff members had siphoned off Rs 10 lakh by issuing fake bank acknowledgements (challans) to unsuspecting consumers who had paid the BCC in the KR Puram division.

The BCC was not deposited in the BWSSB’s bank account. It was feared that several crores of rupees may have been unaccounted for. But the BWSSB is now not sure whether a consumer’s challan is fake or real. So, it has done the easiest thing: Include the BCC in every bill under the head “arrears.”

When contacted, BWSSB Engineer-in-Chief T Venkata­raju told Deccan Herald that if the consumer produced the challan as documentary evidence, the Board would check whether the money is actually credited to its bank account. If the challan is real, the money would be adjusted in the next billing cycle. 

But several consumers, particularly in the KR Puram division, are unaware of this option. Many have actually paid the BCC amount again as the bill does not explain what the “arrears” actually means.

Bill recalculation

Consumers who did question the local BWSSB office were asked not to pay the full amount and instead write to the BWSSB chairman with the BCC paid receipt. J Krishna Murthy, a resident of Shastrinagar near HAL, had paid Rs 5,000 as BCC for his house on a 30’ X 40’ plot. But his first water bill amount was Rs 4,656, way above his monthly water charge of Rs 93. On approaching the local BWSSB office, the bill was recalculated and he had to pay only Rs 644.

However, Abdul Salam, a resident of the adjacent Annasandrapalya, had no such luck. His bill amount was a hefty Rs 8,095, of which Rs 7,291 was shown as other charges and Rs 122 as arrears on those charges. He too had paid the BCC years before. Since he did not question the billers, he was given no explanation or assurance of a refund.

Illegal connections

For the acutely water-starved new BBMP areas, the supply of Cauvery water under the GBWASP had come as a huge saviour. But despite laying the water pipelines at high cost and making available about 3.59 lakh connections, only 65 per cent of the consumers paid up the BCC to get legal connections. The rest preferred to bypass the house connection and take the water directly from the mainlines.

The GBWASP benefited residents of seven erstwhile City Municipal Councils of Yelahanka, Byatarayanapura, Bommanahalli, Mahadevapura, KR Puram, Rajarajeshwarinagar and Dasarahalli and the Town Municipal Council of Kengeri.

 Residents here were earlier dependent on borewells and had no water bills to pay. Water supplied through the Cauvery Stage IV Phase II was initially given free of cost. BWSSB officials found to their shock that many were not prepared to regularise the connections.

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