Taps of residents who have not paid their pending water bills have started to run dry, for the municipal corporation on Friday started snapping the connections of defaulters who owe more than Rs 10,000 to it.
In the next 15 days, the defaulters might be forced to make some alternative arrangements for quenching their thirst and performing ablutions. By then, all such connections, which number nearly 5,000 in the city, will cease to exist. If defaulters tried to restore their connections through illegal means, the police will book them for water theft under Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (see box).
Day One: 15 connections cut
On Friday, the first day of the drive, the MC snapped 15 connections in Sectors 18, 22, 23, 34 and 35. The MC is yet to collect nearly Rs 3 crore from 5,000 defaulters in residential areas and Rs 6 crore from the government departments in the city. Most of the cases have been reported from villages and colonies. The civic body has written to the government departments to deposit pending dues. The decision was taken in a meeting of officers of the MC's public health department recently.
Speaking to HT, RC Diwan, superintending engineer, public health department, said, around 5,000 defaulters have not paid their bills for the past one year. “We have already started disconnecting their water connections and if they get it restored by illegal means, through flexible pipes connections, and draw water from the main pipeline, police case will be registered against them for theft of water,” he added.
The disconnection of water meter/its restoration by a consumer by using illegal means shall be photographed and kept as a record by the sub-divisional engineers concerned, Diwan said, adding that the progress will be reviewed on April 29.
'Check water wastage in colonies'
Welcoming the move, BSP councillor Naresh Kumar said the civic body should also check water wastage in colonies, especially in Janta Kumhar Colony, Sector 25; Colony No. 4 and 5, Nehru Colony, Indira Colony and Khajeri village. At these places, tap nozzles were missing and water was flowing continuously and those passing by were least bothered about the wastage as the MC had not installed any water meter in these colonies, he added.
Offenders to be booked
In case of water theft, the police will book offenders under Section 379 (punishment for theft) of the Indian Penal Code. Whoever commits theft shall be punished with imprisonment, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or both, says the law.