Tax-paying residents normally face water cuts if BMC's catchment areas don't get enough rain during the monsoon. In such a scenario, some of city's high-profile residents have been found to be using water without clearing their dues.
Some of the big-shots figuring in the BMC list of water defaulters published on June 26 are Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, his late father Bal Thackeray, renowned Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan and well-known architect Hafeez Contractor.
This is the second time this year that the names of the Thackerays have appeared in the list. As reported in dna on January 29, the name of late party chief Bal Thackeray had figured in the list besides that of ex-cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
The BMC has been publishing the list following an order passed by the state information commission in December last year.
A senior civic official, requesting anonymity, said the corporation includes names (in the list) of those connections holders who fail to clear dues within 45 days of the bills being send.
"The list is updated every 24 hours. This is to ensure we do not embarrass anybody unnecessarily. If a person named in the list clears dues, then his/her name is removed immediately," he added.
Uddhav Thackeray speaks
"Why would I not pay bills? When the issue cropped last time (in January), we set a system to ensure that such things are not repeated. I will check to see if we had received the bill in the first place. If we have not received it and our names have been listed, it is wrong," Thackeray said.
Prakash (Bala) Sawant, Shiv Sena’s MLA from Bandra, refuted the list saying he has paid all the bills the BMC issued in the names of the Thackerays. “I only pay their bills. The list prepared by BMC is incorrect. We have cleared all the bills in time,” Sawant said.
Shah Rukh Khan and Contractor could not be reached for their version of the story.
Bill itself is a notice
BMC issues water bills in two cycles (monthly and quarterly). Consumers, whose bills are, on an average, above Rs 15,000 per month, get bills after 30 days. Prior to April 2001, BMC used to issue a 3-day notice to consumers after the due date was over. If they failed to pay, the connection would be cut. However, now a water bill being issued itself is a notice. If you don't pay within 45 days, you are liable for action.
Why list is online now
As reported in dna on Dec 11, 2013, state information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad had on Dec 6 instructed municipal chief Sitaram Kunte to publish names of water bill evaders on BMC's official website www.mcgm.gov.in. The order was given under section 4(1) (B) of Right to Information Act, 2005 after the public information officer (PIO) attached to BMC's F-North ward (covering areas like Matunga, Sion) failed to share details sought by a Wadala resident, Jaiprakash Gupta.