Charging commercial rates for water supply to a house, where the resident held homoeopathic consultations, has cost the municipal corporation's public health department `25,000. Worse, even though the MC stated that the commercial rate was `12 a kilolitre, it could not explain why it had charged the house at `15 a kilolitre. The domestic water tariff ranges from `2 to `8 per kilolitre depending on usage.
"Charging water supply at commercial rate, and that too higher, certainly amounts to deficiency in service," ruled the district consumer disputes redressal forum presided over by Rajan Dewan, while directed the MC department to pay 20,000 as compensation and `5,000 as litigations cost to BD Banerjee, a resident of Sector 43.
"Merely by using a small room of the residential premises for his vocation by the complainant (Banerjee), would not convert it into a commercial premises, as is being made out by the MC," observed the forum, telling the MC to overhaul Banerjee's account by treating it as residential category from the date it was changed to commercial, and to adjust the amount (arrived at after overhauling the account) in the future bills of the complainant.
Banerjee, a registered medical practitioner from the Council of Homoeopathic Medicine, had moved the forum against the sub-divisional engineer of MC public health division 6, and the executive engineer for division 2, as he had started getting water bills on commercial rates from May 5, 2012, without any prior notice, though earlier he was being charged for residential use. He said he worked from a small room and his profession was not a commercial activity, thus the water bylaws were not applicable to him.
The department had claimed that as per the water bylaws, "a residential building or any part thereof being used for professional purposes for instance doctors, architects, dentists etc. shall be charged at `12 per kilolitre."
But the forum observed that the department failed to prove that Banerjee was doing any business to earn profit from his premises.
Also, the bill presented in the forum was for 45 kilolitres, so it should have been `540 even at commercial rates. But Banerjee was charged `675, that is `15 a kilolitre. The public health department could not explain this overcharging either.