CANACONA – Hell breaks loose, as following new billing patterns where 16000litres of water is assured free, several people in Canacona are burdened with high water bills.
According to sources, more than 50 domestic consumers in the Agonda section alone have received water bills ranging between Rs 10,000 to Rs.25,000/- while as many as 60% of the consumers have been billed in thousands between 1000/- to 5000/-.
Since introducing a new billing system after the government announced a free water supply of 16,000 ltrs, PWD(Water Supply) has been issuing bills for over six months, beginning September ‘2021.
While a domestic user in Agonda, who claims his tap hardly provides water, is shown to have consumed water for 650 units for the period 1-09-2021 to 03-03-2022(184 days). With a meter rent of Rs. 307/- and pending arrears of Rs.1964/- the resident received a whooping bill of Rs.18521/-.
Another resident who claims their house has been closed for the last 2 years has received a Bill of Rs.13240/- against 518 units, Meter Rent of Rs.290 and without any arrears for the period 01-09-2021 to 21-02-2022(174 days) with While water bills have been issued after a gap of six months, Canacona residents awake to receipt of hefty bills, while departmental officials differed from justifying billing as usage charges.
One of the consumers received a water bill for Rs.18521/- against the consumption of 650 units@ Rs.25/-, Meter Rent (307/-) and arrears of Rs.1964/-. The billing period is 01-09-2021 to 03-03-2022.
In both cases, metered units are billed a flat rate of Rs.25/- per unit.
There is yet another household in Agonda which have received a billing of Rs 20,000/-+, while yet another resident of Cabo-De-Rama in Khola received a bill for Rs.16000/+.
Besides, according to sources, several people elsewhere in Canacona taluka have received hefty water bills ranging in thousands of rupees and beyond their abilities to pay.
When approached, Canacona PWD (Water Supply) Assistant Engineer Lester D’souza informed the high billing is due to the new billing system introduced to provide 16000 Litres of water supply free of costs.
‘The delay in introducing the new billing system as well as a deputation of PWD staff on election duties are the reasons for issuance of bills for long six months at a time in Canacona’,
When asked for reasons for recording high meter readings, AE D’souza informed people have consumed water as per the recordings or kept their taps open, allowing air pressure to pass through, thereby enabling the meter to run.
“In many cases, people use water supply for construction activities, increasing water usage and Meter readings,” he said.
Incidentally, in all the three high billing cases referred here, one of the consumers claims they hardly found their tap running/getting water, another resident claims their house has been closed for the last two years, and the third one claims though they get the water for 2-3 hours that also on alternate days it hardly impossible to utilise water running into thousands of units billed.
As regards high billing amounts to several people, D’Souza also blamed on the new system of billing.
‘The free 16000litrrs a month is only to the Consumers whose consumption is within 16 Units a month, however when the consumption goes beyond 16 Units but below 50 Units, Consumers are billed in a slab system (0-15m2 @Rs.3.50/-, 15m2-25m2 @ Rs.9/-, 25m2-40m2@ Rs.15/-, Above 40m2@ Rs.15/- And above 50m2 @ a flat rate of Rs.25/-).
Incidentally, while no free water supply is allowed once the monthly consumption is recorded beyond 16m2 units and all the units up to 50m2 units are billed as per the slab, the monthly units shown Above 50m2 consumption, beginning 0.0m2 to whatever consumption is recorded, are billed at a flat rate of Rs.25/-, explained the Assistant Engineer.
Residents cry foul that the introduction of a free water supply of 16000 litres a month is itself taking the people of Goa to ride; the billing system is introduced as a systematic loot of the consumers.