Civic body to pay for inflated water bills

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation to pay Rs 15,000 as compensation for sending inflated water bills to a consumer.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published:March 14, 2009 1:38 am

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation to pay Rs 15,000 as compensation for sending inflated water bills to a consumer. The MC has also been directed to refund Rs 5,000 charged in excess and another Rs 5,000 as costs of litigation.

Sunita Sanghi,a resident of Sector 21,said she received a water bill,allegedly inflated by Rs 776,in August 2005. On inquiry,she was told that the bill was based on the actual consumption of water but Sanghi averred that in the following bimonthly cycle,her bill was comparatively low. However,Sanghi received “highly inflated” bills for April,June and August 2006,amounting to Rs 4,338 and Rs 1,609 respectively. Sanghi later deposited Rs 65 for the checking of her meter,which was found in working order. She was,however,informed that there could be a leak in the underground pipe following which she approached the CPWD. The pipeline was also found satisfactory.

Thereafter,Sanghi said she wrote numerous letters to the MC authorities seeking rectification of the bills. She also sought information under the RTI Act and found that no meter had been installed on the ground floor of her house till June 16,2006. She apprehended that the excessive bill was on account of unauthorised use of water by the occupant on the ground floor and the averred that the bills could have been issued to her in connivance with the occupant. She then moved the consumer forum. In its reply,the MC said the billing was done according to the actual consumption of water only.

Announcing the verdict,the forum said the MC had stated in its reply that the meter was installed in April 2004 only,even though the application for installation of a meter was given in May 2002. “This stand is contradicts the information supplied to the complainant under the RTI Act,” it stated. The forum also said that the sudden spurt in the bill for the month of February 2006 is unexplainable. Similarly,the other bills of the months ending April,June and August 2006 are also inflated.

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