Poor response to BMC’s Abhay Yojana, civic body recovers only 7% of outstanding water dues

Despite extending the deadline twice for citizens to pay pending water bills in lieu of partial rebate, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has managed to recover only 7 per cent of the outstanding bills. The civic has to recover a total of Rs 2,819.44 crore of arrears from the citizens for water supply.

Consumers have to pay their monthly water bill within one month from the date of receipt, failing to do so the civic body would impose an additional 2 per cent charge on the payment amount per month, towards late payment. However, under the Abhay Yojana scheme, Mumbaikars are exempted from paying the additional 2 per cent on pending water bills.

In August 2020, the civic body had extended the deadline till December 31 given the pandemic outbreak. However the same was further extended till March 31, 2021. However, despite this, the collection of water bill arrears has touched around 7 per cent, according to officials.

The civic body supplies an average 3,850 million litres of water to the city daily and this year the body had set up a target of procuring Rs 1,535 crores as sewerage and water supply charges. Earlier in August, outstanding charges of Rs 2,819.44 crore were pending from around two lakh consumers. According to the officials, only Rs 193.42 crore (6.86 per cent) of the total outstanding amount has been recovered till November 2020.

Senior officials from the hydraulic engineering department said that the extension was imposed on August 2020, as more people came forward and started to clear their dues to avoid paying outstanding amounts of bills. "We extended it further to March 31, thinking it will prompt more people to clear the dues. The idea was to encourage the consumers and to make sure that clear their pending water bill. However the number slowed down and has now stuck," said an official.

The civic body had introduced the Abhay Yojana to recover pending water and sewerage dues. The purpose for this is to recover the pending water bills which have been pending for a long time. Under Abhay Yojana, a lumpsum payment is to be made for the exhausted water bill. However, the poor response has been received to the Abhay Yojana this year. The pandemic has hit the pockets of everyone from a businessman, the salaried class people and even to a daily wager, making it difficult for many to shell out a lump sum amount. Therefore, the Hydraulic engineering department has decided to relax the condition of one-time surcharge of exhausted water bill.

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