Group housing societies across Delhi will now have to cough up arrears since 2004 running into lakhs of rupees after they lost a case in the Delhi High Court in connection with the manner in which Delhi Jal Board (DJB) levied service charges for bulk water connections.
The decision is applicable to about 600-odd cooperative group-housing societies at Mayur Vihar and Indraprastha Extension in east Delhi and Rohini and Pitampura in north Delhi.
The Federation of Group Housing Societies, Indraprastha Extension, had filed a writ petition in the high court in 2005. It had contested DJB's levying of service charge on the basis of number of dwelling units/flats in each society although they got water through a single bulk connection.
The court had asked the DJB to levy 50% of the service charge due till the outcome of the case. In February 2011, the court ruled in DJB's favour. It (then) granted three months' time to pay the arrears (as per remaining 50% service charge), together with interest at the rate of 9% per annum.
While the DJB started charging 100% due service charge immediately after the judgment, it started recovery of arrears early this year.
Representatives of several housing societies approached the DJB, expressing difficulty in paying the arrears in one go. When DJB introduced the 30% rebate on arrears of water bills, the societies wanted to avail of the facility.
"We approached the chief minister, who directed us to the DJB CEO. She promised us that we would be able to pay in six installments till March 2014 and avail of the 30% rebate," said Suresh Bindal, founder president of the IPEX Societies Mahasangh, an umbrella body of all societies in the area.
"Since 2004, several people have sold houses and many of the tenants have changed. How do we recover dues? That's why we are expecting a relief till March 2014," said Dinesh Khatri, general secretary of the Mahasangh.
But DJB seems to be reluctant to offer any further concession. Sanjam Chima, DJB's consultant (PR) said: "Group housing societies that make full payment of outstanding arrears up to July 31, 2013, will receive a 30% rebate."