HMWSSB to pay Rs 5K to man for converting domestic connection to commercial without notice

Despite multiple requests to rectify the bills, the board did not respond and Kareem decided to complain to the consumer redressal commission.

By Nimisha S Pradeep  Published on  7 Nov 2022 11:03 AM GMT
HMWSSB to pay Rs 5K to man for converting domestic connection to commercial without notice

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad District Consumer Redressal Commission has directed Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) to issue new updated bills and pay Rs. 5,000 as costs to Abdul Kareem, a Hyderabad resident, for converting his domestic connection to commercial without informing him.

Kareem is a resident of Kacheguda and has a domestic water connection. But HMWSSB changed the connection from domestic to commercial without his knowledge.

In 2016, a bill collector visited Kareem's residence to read the meter and demanded extra money besides the bill amount which Kareem refused to pay. After that, he started receiving bills under the changed category commercial. In April 2017, he filed a complaint for excess billing and also requested the board to change his connection to domestic.

Kareem visited the HMWSSB office several times with a request to convert the category from commercial to domestic and to adjust the amount from Mach 2017 to as on the date in the ledger. He requested them to verify the same by personally visiting his home at any time, but all his efforts were in vain.

On 1 December 2021, a demand notice was issued by the general manager (engg.), O&M division of the HMWSSB, stating that as per the records of the board, the total arrears of Rs. 1,75,889 which is outstanding due towards the water charges and sewerage cess and demanded Kareem pay the amount within 15 days.

Despite multiple requests to rectify the bills, the board did not respond and Kareem decided to complain to the consumer redressal commission.

Board's argument

HMWSSB denied that Kareem's water connection was changed without his knowledge and said the allegation was false and fabricated. They said Kareem had cleared the arrears levied under domestic category as on 8 March 2018, and since then, the complainant had failed to pay the amount due towards the water and sewerage services, even though he was intimated to clear the dues as and when demand notices were issued.

According to the board, the conversion was done in January 2018. They said that Kareem, who had a domestic connection, initially violated Section 25 of HMWS&S Act of 1989 which says that no person should use water allocated for domestic purposes for non-domestic purposes. They said that construction activity was going on the said premises and the category could not be converted from commercial to domestic.

Commission's observations

The commission observed that Kareem was charged under domestic category till November 2017 and since December 2017, he has been receiving bills based on commercial category charges. Kareem's water bill charges that were levied under the commercial category from December 2017 to March 2018 were waived off by the water board to the tune of Rs. 3,296 and after getting the waiver, Kareem cleared all water bill dues pending till March 2018.

More importantly, the commission observed that as per Water Supply Rules 1990, a person from the water board should visit the house for meter reading and inspection, and there should be a prior intimation before conversion.

"The board neither filed any report of the inspection done by any of the officials nor filed any notice of intimation prior to conversion. No substantial proof is there that the board converted the domestic connection of the complainant to a commercial connection based on a prior inspection. This amounts to clear deficiency of service that leads to the adoption of unfair practice," noted the commission.

The Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission said that since there was uninterrupted water service, the complainant Kareem is not entitled to compensation but they directed the board to pay Rs. 5,000 as costs. Also, the board has been asked to issue the revised bill from April 2018 to January 2022 under the domestic category and issue up-to-date bills. Kareem is also asked to pay the updated bills within three months of issuing the new bills.

Next Story
Share it