The Public Health Department of the Municipal Corporation has been slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 for levying commercial rates on water bills for a Sector 43 house where the owner held homeopathic consultations. The UT Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum held the department deficient in services as it not only charged B D Banerjee with commercial rates but also at a rate higher than the commercial rate of Rs 12 per kilolitre.
Banerjee,a registered medical practitioner,complained he was being charged at commercial rates for the water supply to his house whereas he was not running a profit-making business from the small room he worked from. He maintained he was only doing some social service.
The public health department had imposed commercial rates on the water bills even though maximum portion of the house was used for residential purposes. Also,the commercial rates imposed were Rs 15 per kilolitre instead of Rs 12 per kilolitre,according to which Banerjees bill should have been Rs 540 and not Rs 675.
Meanwhile,the department maintained the complainant was running a clinic from his house and hence the commercial rates were rightly charged as per the water by-laws. It claimed residential building or any part thereof being used for professional purposes for instance doctors,architects,dentists shall be charged Rs 12 per kilolitre.
The Forum,however,turned down the contentions as it could not be provedthat Banerjee was running any business or profession to earn profit from the premises.
The Forum also directed the department to immediately overhaul the account of the complainant by treating it as residential from the date it was changed to commercial. Also,it asked the department to adjust the amount (arrived at after overhauling the account) in the future bill(s) of the complainant along with giving him a compensation of Rs 20,000 and legal costs of Rs 5,000.