Maharashtra owes BMC ₹45L for water bills of VIP homes
The official residence of chief minister (CM) Devendra Fadnavis has defaulted on paying water bills amounting to ₹7.14 lakh to the civic body, revealed a response to a right to information (RTI) query by activist Shakeel Ahmed. The CM’s bungalow, Varsha, is one of the 19 VIP residences, apart from state guest house Sahyadri, that have been declared defaulters for non-payments of water bills, collectively amounting to more than ₹45 lakh.
Revenue minister Chandrakant Patil, however, told the legislative council that all dues related to the CM’s bungalow have been cleared in September 2018. “In May 2019, the state received further backdated bills. All dues will be cleared soon.”
The government’s public works department (PWD), which maintains these bungalows and many other official buildings, owes the BMC ₹8 crore in water bills too. The state, however, issued a clarification, pointing out that the water bills were paid by PWD in November 2018 and the payment was stayed owing to some discrepancies in the bill issued in April. The clarification stated that official ministerial bungalows and the CM’s residence also host several officials and staff members throughout the day.
The RTI reply led to an outcry by the Opposition in the BMC and the legislative council, especially at a time when the city is facing a 10% water cut. Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, however, said, “Prima facie it does not appear that the water bills were not paid on purpose. I have asked the hydraulics department officials to check the records.”
The RTI response revealed that all these VIP residences were being supplied “more than enough water”. “The CM’s official residence gets around 1,600 units of water… Every unit is 1,000 litres. On the contrary, owing to water shortage in the city, currently the BMC is supplying only 135 litres per person per day. If citizens default on their bills for a few months, the civic body takes strict action and cuts water supply, but here no action is being taken,” Ahmed said.