Bill blues: Saraswati Apartment on Kanke Road in Ranchi. Picture by Hardeep Singh
A “mistake” on the part of the Ranchi Water Board authorities has come as rude shock for some residents of Saraswati Apartment on Kanke Road, and some flat owners of neighbouring Soubhagya Apartment.
Eight of the 30 flat owners in Saraswati Apartment have received massive “outstanding” water bills under the domestic non-meter (fixed) category, even though water is supplied to the complex through a common connection meant for the building.
The supposed arrears accumulated within the period 2006-2012, and the bills were delivered on February 5. Saraswati Apartment has been in existence since 2000.
“As a senior citizen, this bill has come as a bolt from the blue. I do not have a separate water-supply connection and cannot understand why this bill was sent to me in the first place,” said flat owner M. Mohan.
Some of the bills mention dues as high as Rs 20,000.
One C.P. Singh, who sold his flat three years ago, is also among those slapped with a due slip. “If the bill is meant for flat owners, it should have been sent to all owners. Why have only eight persons got them,” enquired D. Mishra, another resident.
Secretary of the complex P.C. Prasad is at a loss to explain what could have gone wrong. “We clear domestic water bills regularly. I do not understand the reason our neighbours getting such bills,” he said.
A resident of Soubhagya Apartment who has received a similar bill said he did not have Water Board connection for his home. “I will just throw the bill in the dustbin. Why should I bother?” he said confidently.
According to Ranchi Water Board rules, each apartment block is provided with one connection and the bills are sent to the officiating secretary. The amount is calculated according to the meter reading.
Meter-reader Shailendra Kumar said bills were issued to 105 apartment blocks in the city. He too could not explain how bills got sent to the Saraswati Apartment flat owners.
A Water Board official, however, admitted it was a mistake. “This mistake has happened with many flat owners and we really regret it.”
Chief executive officer of Ranchi Municipal Corporation Dipankar Panda admitted an error as well. “How could individual owners of an apartment been served with bills when they do not have individual connections? This is certainly erroneous. I would appreciate it if the flat owners bring the matter to me,” he said.
Panda’s deputy Gopalji Tiwary said it was not possible for the board to get specific addresses unless a connection has been provided. “In this case, I assume there is some misunderstanding or confusion. The billing authorities might have got the addresses from the list of land holding tax payers. This is just an assumption though,” he said, adding a detailed inquiry would reveal the facts.
Meanwhile, residents from other parts of the city are queuing up at the Ranchi Municipal Corporation office after receiving cumulative water bills. A resident from Kokar said that he has received a bill for 80 months that amounts to Rs 96,000.
Another resident of Kilburn Colony, S. Singh said he has been asked to pay Rs 23,000 for water consumed in the last five years.