Bengaluru: Ravi. K. who lives on Temple Road in Malleswaram was shocked to see his water bill had increased by 300% this month. His bill, which had remained at about Rs 1,000 until June, shot up to Rs 3,300. He took it lightly, however and put it down to a billing error or an inaccurate meter-reading.
Ravi was in for another unpleasant surprise, when he discovered that the ridiculous increase in his bill was justified by Bengaluru Water Supply Sewerage Board (BWSSB) authorities, who cited a government notification issued on June 13. The notification said that the revision of the sanitation fee for the North Ward is now applicable for bulk consumers, including apartment dwellers, multi-storeyed buildings and government housing complexes.
Ravi demanded to know how the BWSSB could hike the water tariff without informing the public. “The BWSSB should be transparent about things like increasing the tariff and must issue a public notification,” he said.
“Any decisions that directly affect the public should be made after a public interaction, which is what the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Corporation (KERC) does. It should be announced in newspapers. The BWSSB cannot shock citizens like this,” said an irate Ravi.
Speaking to this paper, BWSSB chief engineer T. Venkat Raju said that the revision of the tariff is applicable only to high-rises and to those who have declared their dwelling units apartments or multi-storeyed buildings.
The tariff has been enhanced from Rs 6 per kilo litre to Rs 19 for up to 8 kilo ltrs (8,000 ltrs). The slab system has been removed for bulk consumers. Sanitation charges have been increased by 20 % of the water bill or a minimum of Rs 100 per flat, whichever is lower.
Consumers declare their buildings high-rise or multi-storey when they apply for a water connection. The tariff revision affects only 11,000 apartments or high rises in the city and took place during the BJP regime, with the draft made in February.
The notification was issued in May and the revision came into effect from June. BWSSB authorities defended their action saying that since the revision affects only 1.5% of consumers, they did not see the need to publicize it.