Pay BWSSB contractor to reconnect sewage line, or live with stink

While everybody else in the city were busy celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi last weekend, 73-year-old Sakuntala Narasimhan, who writes the column Civic Reflections for Citizen Matters, had a different task to do. She spent her weekend fighting the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) contractor and officials, urging them  to restore the sewage connection to her flat.

Her connection was suddenly cut off without any prior notice from the BWSSB, who are on a drive to replace old sewage lines across the city. Sakuntala, a resident of Jayanagar 3rd Block, 27th cross, is unable to use the toilet in her residence. She is now forced to stay in another place, until the problem is solved.

Sewage seeping from the unconnected pipe from Sakuntala’s house, left open by the contractor.

‘Pay if you want the sewage connection back’

She narrates the whole episode:”On September 8, 2013, when the water and sewage connection to my house was cut off, I approached the contractor. The contractor who identified himself as Murali, had got the whole road dug up. The whole stretch is now badly stinking and rain water is seeping into it. He said that if I want the sewage connection restored, I would have to pay him Rs 3,500. But for this, he will not give me any receipt.”

“I was not willing to pay him. So I decided to call my own plumber and get the connection restored. My plumber inspected the sight and told me that the whole job will cost not more than Rs 1,000. As soon as he was ready to start the work, Murali stopped him and threatened him. Murali warned the plumber not to do the work and insisted that he only will do the job. Murali also told the plumber to convince me to to pay the ‘small’ amount of Rs 3,500 and get over with it,” she adds.

Sakuntala then approached the BWSSB office to register her complaint, on September 9, 2013. She met BWSSB inspector, Mushtaq Ahmed who told her that it was a petty issue and suggested that she could bargain with Murali, settle the deal at Rs 2,000 and fix her problem. “I have also sent an email to the BWSSB Commissioner and PRO, to chairman@bwssb.org and pro@bwssb.org on September 11, 2013.” She now awaits their reply and some action on ground.

She adds that she is not the only one who is suffering this menace. The residents of the whole area are forced to pay the contractor. The Pizza Hut nearby, Sakuntala says, had to shell out Rs 5,000 to get the lines reconnected.

After approaching the higher ups in BWSSB, Sakuntala now says that Murali has threatened her. She says he has given her an ultimatum: “If you don’t let me do the job, I will close the road and go away. Then, later, you will have to run around to get permissions to dig the road and restore your connection.”

‘Getting the reconnection is resident’s job’

Citizen Matters contacted BWSSB chairman M S Ravishankar, the contractor Murali, BWSSB inspector Mushtaq Ahmed and BWSSB south engineer Gopal Gowda to hear what they had to say on the issue.

Murali had barred all incoming calls on September 10, 2013 and on September 11, 2013, his mobile number was not reachable.

Mushtaq Ahmed says that BWSSB does not have to communicate about relaying work in any specific area, as it is commonly known that all old lines are being replaced in a phased manner, across the city. 

“In the meantime, the contractor is also telling people whether their old pipelines are rusted or dirty, and if they need to be replaced. People have to replace their old lines and connect them with the new ones. Instead of asking for another plumber, people can use the facility of the contractor and get their work done by paying an additional amount,” he adds.

He was also quick to add: “BWSSB is not involved with any contractor. However there is a prescribed six-inch pipe which has to be laid to ensure that water and sewage lines remain good for another 20-30 years. So it is better if the contractor and their plumbers do the job.”

Engineer Gopal Gowda says that he is new to the post and thus was unaware of the issue. He said he needed some time to take stock of the situation and fix the problem.

He, however, clarifies that BWSSB’s job is to lay the main water line and sewage lines and it is for residents to take the connection after obtaining required permissions. This is the rule. Residents can take the help of any independent contractor to do this job. They need not depend on the assigned contractor.

Complain to BWSSB if you are suffering

The Assistant Executive Engineer, BWSSB, Rajeev said there are around 600 houses and 80 commercial properties in Jayanagar 3rd block. But so far no one has made any complaints about contractors threatening them. “We will take action against the contractor or even blacklist him, if need be,” he added.

When Citizen Matters brought this to the notice of BWSSB Chairman Ravishankar, he expressed shock and worry over the issue, saying: “This is huge! Residents can employ independent licensed contractors to connect their sewage lines with the main lines. I request Sakuntala and all other worried citizens to formally complain to me directly so that I can look into the issue and take action against the contractors, engineers and other staff members. They should not be scared of anything or anybody.”

People can complain to the BWSSB Chairman, by sending their emails to chairman@bwssb.org or call at 22941500, when faced with such problems.

Health inspector to act only after people fall sick

Commenting on the health and safety of the residents and eateries in the vicinity, south zone BBMP health officer M N Lokesh says: “Water contamination and maintaining sewage lines is the responsibility of the BWSSB. They should ensure that the water is potable and safe.”

“However as a BBMP health officer, I can say that people should take care of their health and check if the water they are consuming is potable or not. If people fall ill, only then BBMP will check what are the causes. Until then there is no need to worry,” he says.

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About Bosky Khanna 0 Articles
Bosky Khanna is Staff Journalist, Citizen Matters.

6 Comments

  1. For the initial connection of either water OR sewerage, it is the duty of the owner to obtain permission as well as to bear the cost of getting the connection done.

    But for an existing connection, i.e. old buildings enjoying the facilities have just to bear the disturbance of either no water OR not to use sewerage line when lines are being replaced. It is the duty of the BWSSB to restore your connections, disconnected from the old lines to the new lines.

    The above experiences clearly indicate, both the department and contractors are taking people for a ride at such occasions, as both are basic necessity for a living.

    At such occasions, people should join hands and represent through the RWA to the concerned offices and get the work done. It is an OFFENCE to disconnect the basic amenities and they can be charged even legally. But the problem is finding time and suffering till process is next to impossible and so people part away with grumbling.

    The other method is to record the process and payments made and get the work done and enjoy the facilities of water & sanitary and file a suit against the contractor and the board for justice and get back the amount paid.

  2. For the initial connection of either water OR sewerage, it is the duty of the owner to obtain permission as well as to bear the cost of getting the connection done.

    But for an existing connection, i.e. old buildings enjoying the facilities have just to bear the disturbance of either no water OR not to use sewerage line when lines are being replaced. It is the duty of the BWSSB to restore your connections, disconnected from the old lines to the new lines.

    The above experiences clearly indicate, both the department and contractors are taking people for a ride at such occasions, as both are basic necessity for a living.

    At such occasions, people should join hands and represent through the RWA to the concerned offices and get the work done. It is an OFFENCE to disconnect the basic amenities and they can be charged even legally. But the problem is finding time and suffering till process is next to impossible and so people part away with grumbling.

    The other method is to record the process and payments made and get the work done and enjoy the facilities of water & sanitary and file a suit against the contractor and the board for justice and get back the amount paid.

  3. See, here is where you need to demarcate. The moment you speak of corruption and with evidence to back it, it becomes a criminal charge and formally, you may name the councillor in a complaint to the police, mark a copy along with the CD copy to the chairman of BWSSB and to the MLA comcerned since here you are concerned with a task where corruption has crept in and wherein the corporator ( councillor ) is the political arm, the contractor reports to the engineer who is the governmental executive arm ( As per the three pillars of democracy ). Corruption means a criminal offence and here the judiciary may be brought into picture. So,

    1. Formal complaints along with the CD copies need to be submitted to the police , the Chairman of BWSSB, the MLA, the under-secretary ( irrigation and urban development, i am not sure, look up the portfolios and contact the land-line of vidhana soudha and they would inform you the department and you may even obtain the number of the personal secretary of the minister and speak to the minister too ) and the principal secretary.

    2. If you suspect police inaction, you may file the same at the court.

    But, nett-nett, this involves lot of enquiries that would ensue and your presence to testify and substantiate.

    This needs lot of mental stamina and the will to ensure a long-standing solution.

    Practically, with employment in private firms consuming most of your time, money and energy in addition to family commitments, many citizens drop half-way.

    That is when you may approach the media, but paid journalism and unscrupulous elements posing off as journalists and their education to become journalists, being sponsored by politicians, media might not be a safe option all the while.

    SO, LOOK AT YOUR ISSUE, get it resolved, by raising a din or silently, as relevant to the context and just move away and move on.

    EACH ONE TO HIMSELF AND HIS OWN BATTLE.

    Unfortunate but true that we have reached that stage now, in India, already torn into pieces and sold, by politicians and the a aadmi citizen who poses off as a simple citizen, but is through with the implementation of many of his/her anti-national activities.

    INDIA IS FRAGMENTED AND FRACTURED AND DENTED SEVERELY AND DEEPLY WITH TOO MANY INTERNAL INJURIES.

    THIS IS THE TRUTH.

  4. I would like to share my experience. I live in an apartment in ISRO layout and somehow, the drainage was too old collapsed due to rains. After several complaints, we got the contractor and the contractor said that for every house, we have to shell out INR 500/-. For this he sent one of his persons to count the number of houses. When the day came for him to link our drainage, I created a fuss and called all inmates and started video-graphing the whole scene. The guy not only connected our lines but also said that he would take a lesser amount that is given by us. The reason given is that BWSSB takes roughly 8-10 months to clear his bill and the local Councillor takes 35% of the total moolah. The contractor’s claim was substantiated and we recorded the conversation with the Councillor. We tried escalating the case to the top level. They told us to give the CD and that’s it. Nothing happened after that. Poor Contractor, he has to pay his workers who bears the entire stench also has to survive; so we paid those guys some money ourselves. ALL THIS CAN BE CHANGED WHEN YOU JOIN HANDS WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURS AND THE ENTIRE AREA FOR A CAUSE; THAT OF SAVING MONEY FOR YOURSELF.

  5. In fact same thing happened in Vignan Nagar area, ward no 81. For connecting sewerage line the BWSSB workers were demanding up to 4000 rupees. Residents have paid 2000 to get connection and on top of that people has to buy their own equipments for connection.

  6. The BWSSB staff tried the same trick with me. I did not budge. By Law, As per any act in public interest, it cannot he executed without intimating the public well in advance by way of an announcement via newspapers and the same should also keep the public informed about the materials to be supplied by the public. It costs less than rupees five hundreds. One reducer collar, one length of pipe of thick gauge and the adhesive and a scoop of cement and sand. First, to be legally in a position to pull them to consumer court, i started off with a complaint to their call centre and obtained a complaint ticket number. Then the BBMP chap dropped in and wanted to know why i indulged in road-cutting. I immediately told him that this is a BWSSB task and quickly roped in the BWSSB engineer into the loop and I logged out. The BBMP chap, probably expecting to make a quick buck, quickly vanished from the scene. Next, i reached out to the immediate superior of the engineer and then to Mr.Narayanappa, his boss and then to Mr.Gururaj, his boss and then to Mr.Venkatraju, the chief Engineer of Bangalore BWSSB, followed up with a formal complaint by e-mail, to the chairman, thereby documenting it and achieved my task. But, for almost six hours, the BWSSB staff was stubborn and adamant, till the seniors pitched in. I stood my ground and SUPPLIED ONLY THE MATERIAL AND REFUSED TO FOOT THE LABOUR COST since IN A DEMOCRACY, the STATE guarantees the living conditions and standards of it’s citizens and for a change such as this, you can very well prove the logical and legal debate that LABOUR COST should not be footed by you since it is EXACTLY THE LABOUR-INTENSIVE tasks that are the onus of BWSSB. Material cost for material from home to the public sewage line, to be borne by the citizens, is a valid line of argument from BWSSB. Hence materials to be supplied by citizens and labour intensive services-provisioning to be borne by BWSSB. The contractors do not answer the phone calls of the engineer himself. Of the public’s calls, less spoken of, the better. The labourers the contractors hire are way too arrogant. In Madivala area, contractor sridhar’s men were from well-to-do financial background, with one labourer claiming to own few acres of land near Tataguni, off kanakapura road and another one confessing to being an accused ( A1 ) in an attempt-to-murder case. The contractors cry and lament that it is an uphill task to get labourers but that is his problem. He always has the option to surrender his license on grounds of inability to source labourers. IT IS ALL ABOUT YOUR STAMINA AND QUICK THINKING IN ADDITION TO ROPING IN THE SENIORS AND ENGAGING THEM WITH THE LOW RUNG STAFF.

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