Maharashtra water watchdog cracks whip on bill defaulters

Mumbai, May 18 : In an unprecedented measure, the statutory watchdog body, Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) has cracked the whip on all public and private entities and government departments who have defaulted on paying water bills worth thousands of crores of rupees, an official said here on Friday.

The MWRRA, an independent statutory regulatory authority has ordered all municipal corporations and councils, public, private and industrial townships, Nagar Panchayats and all other local bodies, MIDC, CIDCO, corporates, power and other private companies and organisations who are bulk users of water to clear off their pending water bills, said its Member-Law, advocate Vinod Tiwari.

For the first time ever in India, taking suo moto cognizance of huge outstandings of the bills, in many cases, since years to the state Water Resources Department (WRD), the MWRRA panel comprising chairman K.P.

Bakshi, Member-Engineering V.M. Kulkarni and Tiwari have passed the order this week, he added.

The orders have been issued to the concerned Principal Secretaries of all the departments to initiate immediate necessary steps and recover the amounts due from all the concerned defaulters across all sectors throughout the state.

"During the course of hearing some cases, the MWRRA learnt of such huge outstanding dues, which is hitting the maintenance, expansion or improvements of the irrigation projects in the state, thereby affecting adversely sustainability of such schemes and impacting water use efficiency," Tiwari told IANS.

In many cases, the MWRRA was surprised to learn that the WRD's water supply agreements have not been signed or renewed with various parties for years due to such large outstanding bills, yet they were being supplied water regularly as per their requirements.

Ironically, while all these utilities are regularly collecting the bills from their consumers or clients, they have not bothered to clear the dues to the WRD for the supply of bulk water.

"This has affected MWRRA's stated objectives to ensure equitable distribution of the valuable resource (water) to all, including farmers and domestic consumers, since huge funds -which could be used for improving, enhancing the water schemes - are blocked by unpaid water dues," Tiwari explained.

The MWRRA has also directed the state government to submit an affidavit detailing outstandings by all users/utilities, the agreements executed or renewed or not renewed despite regular water supply being provided to them, by the next hearing on July, 13, said Tiwari.



Source: IANS