The old and only water tower in the area
R.N. Sharma, a homeopathy doctor and resident of Gurdwara Road, was shocked to see his water bill in February — a staggering Rs 30,000 charged for a period of five years. No alternative in sight, he rustled up funds and paid up
Ramakant Ojha, a resident of Olidih, had a harrowing time trying to sell his house in June. He had approached the Mango Notified Area Committee (MNAC) for water, electricity and holding tax NOCs, but found a huge outstanding of Rs 35,000 in lieu of water
Sharma and Ojha are not alone in this predicament. More than 300,000 residents of Mango, which faces a perennial water crisis, are being forced to fork out hefty sums for a service that is barely existent.
Water is supplied to nearly a dozen neighbourhoods — Sankosai, Daiguttu, Teachers Colony, Subhash Colony, Olidih and Pardih to name a few — only four to five times a month. But, the urban local body charges residents per connection — Rs 120 a month for one tap and Rs 200 each for more than one.
“We have three taps, but hardly get water. We never thought we were being charged every month till we received the bill in February after five years,” said Sharma, who has now made it a point to visit the MNAC office every month to pay his water tax, bill or no bill.
Vijay Tiwary, a resident of Old Purulia Road, said he received the bad news during a visit to the MNAC office. “I was told that my bill was Rs 9,000 for a period of one year. I do not understand how we incurred so much expense when we get water only twice a month,” he rued. Mango Nagar Vikas Samiti, an impromptu organisation formed by disgruntled residents, is planning to launch a phase-wise agitation against irregularities in billing and chronic crisis of water.
Jason Horo, sub-divisional officer (SDO) of drinking water and sanitation department’s Mango wing, said they were helpless as far as poor water supply was concerned.
“The population of the area has increased and today, the daily water requirement is 45.5 million gallons. But, the old water tower had and has a capacity of just 1.2 million gallons. What can we do?” he said, adding that the much-delayed Rs 64.18-crore Mango drinking water project was the only viable option to cushion the crisis.
On billing blues, MNAC special officer Neeraj Srivastava said they lacked adequate staff to send water tax statements to every household.
“Our sanctioned strength is 40, we work with only eight. We cannot afford to use their services for bill distribution. We, however, provide consumers with bills if they come to our office,” he said, adding that they charged only one per cent of the original bill amount as penalty every month if money was not paid.