Local Goa News

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hefty water bills ‘haunting’ installation of new JICA meters

MARGAO: A ‘ghost’ of hefty water bills has alerted the consumers in Comba, Aquem, Margao and Agalli-Fatorda, who are now refusing to get new JICA meters installed for their water connections.
PWD officials, on a condition of anonymity, have confirmed it, further adding that the refusal to get the JICA meters installed has put their staff in an embarrassing position.
So far, the PWD has fitted nearly 8,000 water meters in Margao and Fatorda areas, and another 16,000 odd meters are yet to installed.
Each water consumer, who used to receive a water bill of Rs 800 a month is now getting a bill of Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500.
Sources revealed to this daily that the message on ‘faulty mAeters’ has alerted the water consumers in Comba, Aquem, Margao and Agalli-Fatorda, who are now refusing to get their old connections fitted with new JICA water meters.
They refused to get the old meters replaced, alleging that the company which has supplied the water meters has been blacklisted.
Sources informed that the PWD workers were driven away in a couple of such incidents during the last week.
Sources informed that of the installed meters (8,000-odd) nearly 60 per cent are running at a high speed, giving shockers to the water consumers, and that on every passing day, the PWD (water division) receives on an average eight to ten complaints.
“Why should we suffer? The new meters are running at a very high speed. The bill amount is shocking. PWD is asking us to pay the amount and then seek verification, and this made us argue at the PWD office. Is this how the government functions?” asked Sunita Naik, a housewife from Aquem, Margao.
She was one of the many water consumers who received a hefty water bill. Joseph Rodrigues of Fatorda said that he received three consecutive water bills of hefty amount.
“I enquired with the PWD. The officials assured to check the water meter. They took it. And, after some days, it was re-fitted, but there was no difference,” he informed. A BJP leader from Margao, Pandurang Naik said that the meters are running at a spiralling speed and gives shocking readings.
“My meter reading showed that 4000 liters of water is consumed every day. The JICA meters fixed at various dwellings in Margao and other places in South Goa are showing readings which are approximately 10 times more than what the old meters did,” Naik added.
Naik, who had announced to stage a morcha to draw the government’s attention to the issue, said that he will meet the Chief Minister, and even then if the things do not improve, he would stage morcha with the people of Margao.
Margao MLA Digambar Kamat held a meeting with PWD engineers during the last week to discuss on how to resolve the issue.
However, sources said that nothing positive has come out of it as the engineers have expressed their helplessness in resolving the issue.
“Water supply division should take a decision on it. I held a couple of meetings with the engineers, and they had assured to work out a mechanism to sort out the issue, but all in vain,”Margao MLA said. The sources informed that the contract worth Rs 58 crore for supplying JICA water meters was awarded to a Pune-based company, which has been blacklisted for compromising on product quality.
It is learnt that there is shortage of equipment to test the `faulty meters, and this has added to the woes of the water consumers. The concerned PWD engineer could not be contacted as he is on leave.
However, a technical section official, Yogesh Desai said that water meters are checked in presence of consumers and those found faulty are being repaired.

Herald Goa News

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