No one will argue that water meters are essential as they save wastage of water and tap the losses in revenue from water consumption but the negligent manner in which NMMC appointed contractor Chetas Control System Pvt. Ltd. has been installing water meters in Navi Mumbai. The very purpose of the task seems to be beaten. Leakages and extremely poor standards of work being done might, on the contrary result in Crores of public taxes do down the drain in the name of water maters. While no one will argue that better distribution of water and cutting wastage are essential; NMMC’s water meter scheme is neither of this. Take a look at how systematically public funds have been literally drained in the name of water meters. The wastage that began way back in March 2007. MARCH 2007 In order to save criminal wastage of water and encourage installation of water meters for increasing revenue, the Standing Committee had approved the tender bid of Chetas Control System Pvt. Ltd. to install 15 diameter water meters to consumers in Nerul and Belapur, to maintain & repair all meters and take monthly meter readings at a cost of Rs.4.50 crores. MAY 2007 The NMMC general body approved a proposal of the administration for installing 52, 000 water meters for a cost over Rs. 22 Crores. Each water meter was to be purchased by is being purchased for Rs. 3500 from Actaris Company. OCTOBER 2007 NMTV News first expose of the scam in water meters was exposed when we did a survey on the rate of water meters and found out that the meter NMMC was purchasing from Actaris Company for Rupees 3500 each was available in the market for not over Rs. 1300. In other words NMMC was allegedly paying Rs. 22 Crores of your taxes for a task that would have cost not over Rs. 8 Crores. OCTOBER 2007 Later the same month, NMMC Commissioner Vijay Nahata spoke to NMTV News and tried to give a justification for the cost of the meter stating that it involved miscellaneous expenses like making security chambers for the protection of each water meter. JULY 2008 But despite the Commissioner’s assurances, the security boxes were not made and as a result 278 water meters worth Rs. 9 lakhs were stolen in July 2008. NOVEMBER 2008 And today the worse has happened. When we went around CBD, Nerul and Vashi – more shocking realities of the sub standard and shoddy work by the contractor Chetas Control Systems Pvt. Ltd. came to light. The work is so bad that one can clearly see how NMMC has used people taxes to make people’s lives complete hell civic realities. And we aren’t saying this, the harried commoners of the city are. The problems begin with criminal wastage of water due to leakages in the shoddy work of most water meters. And problems do not end at the criminal wastage of water but includes mosquito menace due to stagnant water, debris and clogging of drains. Frustrated women and citizens unanimously blame NMMC administration, corporators and the contractor for their miseries. And now take more dreadful and outrageous realities of the shoddy work of NMMC – the security boxes that have been installed are of such poor quality that rats have eaten into them and entered homes. And despite the ground reality of water meters leaving no doubt that the scheme is a failure, take a look at what NMMC Executive Engineer Sanjay Desai has to say. According to Desai, the work they are doing is so outstanding that not only have CIDCO and other governmental authorities have come to see water meter here but have even appreciated. So if Sanjay Desai is to be believed then all government bodies have appreciated the shoddy, sub standard and civic menacing work done by the contractor under NMMC’s supervision. Since corporators and officials get the share of their booty in every project, they remain silent and do not make contractors accountable who continue to do shoddy work. While much is being talked about the power crisis in Maharashtra, what no one is talking about is the looming water crisis. One of the fallouts of climate change, the consequence of global warming, will be on water sources. The drying up of water sources will have a direct impact on water availability. However, the ignorant and corrupt corporators-contractors-officials nexus in NMMC could not care less about all this evident in the faulty water meter projects of civic corporations. The leakages and poor and shoddy work in the water meter scheme answer the question that Crores of public funds are being drained in the name of water meters.
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