The Mayor Pravin Datke also directed top NMC officials to scan performance of OCW and withhold payment to the company if it fails to improve its slipshod working system in the coming days.
Nagpur News: The Orange City Water (OCW) found itself on slippery ground when the newly elected Mayor Pravin Datke fired his first salvo against the company and ordered scanning of its performance. The Mayor directed the top NMC officials to withhold payment to the OCW if it fails to improve its slipshod working system in the coming days. At the same stroke, in a great relief to thousands of citizens, Datke ordered call back of inflated water bills.
The Mayor cracked the whip on OCW after a widespread outrage among citizens who complained of receiving exorbitant water bills. The citizens, who till now were paying water bills in the range of Rs 300-400, were being issued bills amounting to Rs 400-5000. Moreover, the harassed citizens were left fuming when the OCW officials refused to listen to their complaints and resolve their complaints. “First pay the bills otherwise water connections would be snapped” was the threatening line of the officials to the complaints of the citizens. Even in slums where water was supplied for only an half hour bills of inflated amounts were issued. All these shabby affairs of OCW were highlighted by BSP Group Leader in NMC Kishore Gajbhiye in a press conference.
The enraged Mayor Pravin Datke took the note of widespread discontent and subsequently called a meeting of Municipal Commissioner Shyam Wardhane, Water Works Committee Chairman Sudhakar Kohale and OCW officials. The Mayor bombarded the OCW officials with pointed questions and directed them to come clean over the inflated water bills. The outburst of Mayor over how the water bills of Rs 300-400 turned to Rs 3000-4000 left the OCW officials trembling and they found no words to clarify the mess. However, in the face-saving act, the officials admitted software error and instantly agreed to call back the mind-blowing water bills.
Even the rattled OCW officials admitted error in water bills due to change of software the next question of Mayor put them in the dock. “Why the mistake was not corrected then and there only?” “What would be the next course of action for those citizens who paid the excessive water bills unwillingly?”
File complaints in Zone offices:
The citizens who have been issued disproportionate water bills are to file their complaints at Zonal offices. The NMC-designated delegates will scrutinize the bills and sort of the problem. Complaints can also be filed in the Headquarters of Water Works Department in Dharampeth. The responsibility to supervise the entire exercise has been put under command of Executive Engineer of Water Works Department Rehman.
Scan the performance of OCW:
Turning the tables on OCW, the Mayor Pravin Datke directed the Water Works Executive Engineer and Chief Accounts and Finance Officer to scan the performance of the water supplying company. If the officials find the working system dismal then stop payment to the company. “The scrutiny should be done in the framework of agreement and the law,” ordered the Mayor.
“The OCW is working whimsically. Digging up the roads and not repairing them despite being given time limit of 60 days. On the other hand, the company is looting the citizens by issuing them the outrageous water bills. No work is being done according to rules and under stipulated timeframe. Neither the citizens nor Corporators are happy with the OCW. Complaints pour in daily. Questions are being raised in General Body Meetings over affairs of the company. The Mayor and Municipal Commissioner issue orders but the company conveniently ignore them. No complaint is being heard. Time has come to clean the mess,” said Datke while directing the officials to go through the performance of OCW and withhold payment if nothing tangible is done by the company to improve its system.
Theft of water meters:
The Mayor’s attention was also drawn towards increasing cases of water meter thefts. Even the meter of BJP Corporator and Chairman of Property Tax Committee Girish Deshmukh was also stolen. The manner in which the meters are being stolen the fingers are being pointed towards the plumbers. The OCW installs the first meters free of charge but recovers the charges while installing them for the second time. Responding on the issue, the Mayor Datke said that the stolen meter should also been replaced free of charge.