ESMA invoked against protesting tanker operators

ESMA invoked against protesting tanker operators

The district administration has invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against the owners of private tankers who have suspended water supply demanding payment of their bills. Cases were registered against 90 tanker owners on Saturday.

The tanker owners have been staging dharna since July 25 parking their vehicles on the premises of the city municipality, demanding payment of bills to the tune of Rs 6.30 crore pending since June 2016. This has affected water supply to the residents, affecting normal life of citizens. Kolar has been facing acute water scarcity owing to successive drought. Though the president, members and officials of the city municipality attempted to convince the protesters, they had not withdrawn their dharna.

Deputy Commissioner Dr K V Trilok Chandra had released Rs 1.65 crore towards the arrears for three months. However, the tanker owners were insisting that money be released towards whole of the pending bills. Since all the attempts to convince and pacify the protesters failed, the deputy commissioner had directed the municipal commissioner to register cases against tanker owners under the Essential Services Maintenance Act.

Accordingly, municipal commissioner S R Ramprakash issued final notice to the tanker owners and lodged a complaint with Gulpet police on Friday. The police, registered a case against them on the charge of causing trouble to citizens by not supplying water through tankers under the ESMA. The protesters, as soon as got to know of this, fled the dharna spot along with their vehicles, fearing arrest.

The district administration has blacklisted 90 tanker owners and has even cancelled the work order issued to them for supplying water. It has also been ordered that tender should not be awarded to such contractors in future.

Since the old contract with the tanker operators has been scrapped, the deputy commissioner has asked the officials of the municipality to call short-term tenders for supply of water to the town.

Till the time the tender process is completed, water should be suppled through tankers from other operators.

Accordingly, the officials of the municipality have begun supplying water through tankers from contractors other than those blacklisted.

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