In line with its efforts to ensure 100 per cent metering of water supplied to consumers across the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to review its existing policy on water meters and proposed to replace the current mechanical meters with upgraded electromagnetic and ultrasonic ones.
The civic body is also planning to outsource the process of its procurement to a few empanelled manufacturers, from whom customers can purchase water meters directly.
Earlier, the BMC had decided to source the upgraded meters and install them. However, following a spike in complaints about faulty reading from mechanical meters, the civic body decided to outsource the entire process.
Mechanical meters are susceptible to show readings sans water supply — increased air pressure in water pipes sometimes can alter meter readings. The BMC’s move to replace mechanical meters comes after its decision to buy AMR meters stirred a major controversy due to alleged corruption and mismanagement. The Rs 300-crore project failed and inquiry was also instituted against some of its officials.
Currently, four lakh properties in Mumbai have water meter connections, of which 2.5 lakh are in slums, BMC data shows. On February 20, The Indian Express had reported that only 25 per cent water meters are working in the city. Chief Engineer of Hydraulic Engineering (HE) department, A S Tawadia confirmed that the BMC has proposed new policy regarding water meters, but refused to divulge the details. “The policy is under consideration and is yet to get nod from the higher authorities,” Tawadia said.
Official sources, however, told The Indian Express that the main focus of the proposed scheme will be to cover housing societies, commercial and industrial establishments. “The cost of the meters will range from Rs 7,000 to Rs 15,000, depending on their sizes — 15mm, 20mm and 25mm. Unlike mechanical and AMR (Automated Meter Reading) meters, the life span of electromagnetic and ultrasonic meters is around 10 years,” an officer in the Water Department said.
Another advantage of these upgraded meters, the official said, is that there is “very little chance of tampering”. The proposed policy, the civic body hopes, will also boost
the revenue of the Water Department by at least 25 per cent — currently, the department’s revenue is over Rs 1,400 crore per year.
Once the policy is implemented, a senior official in Water Department said, the BMC will send notices to societies to change their (faulty) meters or install new ones (in case they do not have one installed) within six months. “If a consumer fails to change a (faulty) meter within the set time limit, we will impose a penalty of 25 per cent of the total water bill first time. The penalty will gradually increase if (the meter) not changed in next one year,” the official said.
The department is also planning to appoint a private agency in each ward to check meter readings.