Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s official residence has been included in the defaulters’ list for non-payment of water bills, a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed.
According to the information, sought by activist Shakeel Shaikh, Fadnavis’s bungalow ‘Varsha’ in Malabar Hill has not paid water bills of Rs 7.45 lakh since October 2018. There are six water connections provided to the CM’s bungalow and houses of his staff.
Along with Fadnavis, bungalows of 18 ministers have also been included in list of defaulters by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), claims the activist. The information reveals that water bills amounting to Rs 8 crore were pending, most of them since October.
“The CM and other ministers have been included in defaulters’ list by BMC. When common people do not pay their water bills, there water connections are cut and they are penalised, but will the BMC act in same way when VIPs have defaulted on the bills? The BMC should act rationally against all defaulters. I hope municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi will take action against these defaulters,” Shaikh said.
According to the information, obtained under the RTI, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar’s bungalow ‘Deogiri’ has not paid water bills amounting to Rs 1.45 lakh, PWD minister Ekanath Shinde’s bungalow ‘Nandanvan’ has defaulted on Rs 2.28 lakh water bills, Industrial Minister Shubhash Desai’s ‘Puratan’ has not paid bills of Rs 2.49 lakh. Even the state guest house ‘Sahyadri’ has also not paid Rs 1.20 lakh. The Indian Express has a copy of the reply to the RTI query. The BMC daily supplies over 3,500 million litres water to the city. According to officials, the BMC provides 135 litres per capita daily.
On Monday, Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil informed Legislative Council that water bills were pending due to discrepancies in bills between September 2018 and ones received in May this year. “However, we have paid Rs 49 lakh on Monday,” Patil said.
A clarification issued by the Public Works Department (PWD), which manages all ministers’ bungalows, said that water bills of the ministers’ bungalows were cleared in November 2018. Payments were stopped
after some discrepancies were noticed in the new bill sent in May this year.
PWD officials also claimed that the outstanding amount for chief minister’s bungalow was approximately Rs 3.78 lakh as some bills cleared in November last year had not been recorded.
Meanwhile, taking to Twitter, NCP leader Dhananjay Munde said, “The chief minister and his ministers have kept water bills of Rs 8 crore of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) pending. Will the BMC, which cuts water supply of common citizens, exhibit courage to cut supply of the ministers’ bungalows?”
NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad said he would clear the chief minister’s (bungalow’s) bill to ensure the latter faced “no delay in taking bath” and that “there is no delay in the government’s decision-making”.