Apartment associations that received their water bills for June 2013 were in for a shock. Their water bills were two to three times more than what they had been paying!
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Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) had increased the charges for bulk consumers as per a notification in the Karnataka Gazette dated 23rd May 2013, but most apartment association representatives and residents were not aware of either the new charges, or of the impact of the amendment in tariff, till they received the bills.
According to the new tariff rules, for Bulk Domestic Consumers i.e. High-rise/Multistoried Buildings/ Apartments/ Central and State Government Housing Complexes/ Villas/ Individual Group Housing
Brigade Millennium Mayflower Block in JP Nagar (250 flats with 220 occupied) consumes about 5,000 kilo litres per month and the monthly water charge (average at Rs. 7-8 per kilo litre) was Rs 35,000 to 40,000/-. It is now over Rs.95,000. Sanitary charges raised from Rs.15/- per flat to Rs 100 per flat has resulted in an increase from Rs.3,750 to Rs.25,000/-. As the borewells in the premises were not yielding water, the connections were surrendered to BWSSB, thereby eliminating Rs.12,500/- (Rs.50/- per flat extra).
O P Ramaswamy, treasurer of the Mayflower Association, said that the net result is a bill of about three times the earlier tariff, which will result in an annual expense of more than Rs.5 lakhs over the budgeted amount. He also advised the residents to tighten their consumption of water and do everything possible to conserve water.
The association has already taken steps to reduce water wastage in apartments. The in-house plumber has been visiting every flat, checking for leaks, replacing washers, checking if the flush cistern has a bottle of water to reduce the flush water, adjusting the valves for water pressure, and everything else to ensure that no water went down the drain unnecessarily. The rainwater harvesting system that is in place is expected to provide some respite during this month, as rains are more comparatively.
There are mixed reactions on whether this differential pricing for apartments and independent houses is justified. It is “people” living in both places, and the basic right to clean water remains constant.
While Mayflower, as well as several other apartments in Bangalore have filed their protests against the steep rise with the BWSSB, one hopes that some amount of conservation will result with this pricing. After all, most often, conservation is a consequence of cost. And here the price to pay is substantial!