Inflated water bills and meters in poor condition may soon be a thing of the past.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is set to replace existing water meters in the city with new ones. Once this plan, which has been in the pipeline for long, is implemented, the BMC will own and maintain all the consumer meters in the city.
At present, except for the Automated Meter Reading (AMR) facility meters, installed in parts of the city by the civic body, most meters are bought and maintained by citizens.
These meters, civic officials said, are often not maintained by citizens properly, leading to either inflated or depreciated bills.
Statements of expression of interest were recently invited from meter manufacturing firms. Once the firms are shortlisted, sample meters will be sent to the Fluid Control Research Institute of India in Kerala for testing. The process of installing new meters is set to begin next year and would be phased out for the next two to three years.
Confirming the plan, Ramesh Bhambale, chief hydraulic engineer, said: “Metering of all properties by the BMC would be carried out soon as it is necessary for the larger aim of conducting a water audit”.
The civic body has also come up with measures to avoid theft of meters in slum areas. “In non-slum zones, we will install brass meters. But in slum areas, the meters will be made of composite body. These have barely any resale value, reducing chances of theft,” said an official from the hydraulic engineer’s department.
The BMC had stopped the practice of providing water meters to residential and commercial buildings many years ago, and revived it in 2009 when it installed AMR meters in parts of the city. The project, however, was not viable as the BMC incurred heavy costs, with each AMR unit costing it between Rs 12,000 and Rs 4 lakh.