Thiruvananthapuram: Considering the large number of complaints from consumers regarding excess water bills, the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has decided to initiate disciplinary action against meter readers who commit lapses. At a meeting of the Revenue Officers of the KWA, it was suggested that apart from departmental action, such a dereliction of duty by water meter readers should be reported to the higher authorities.
Incidentally, meter reading did not take place when the lockdowns imposed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic were in place. When the reading resumed, many consumers received bills that were over four times their normal amount and it was alleged that errors caused by meter readers had led to the situation.
Soon, complaints regarding excess bills flooded the KWA section offices. When the complaints received by the Executive Engineers were examined, it was found that lapses during meter reading had led to the excessive amounts shown on bills. Several of the bills were corrected and the consumers were informed about reduced amounts. Subsequently, the KWA decided to take action against the meter readers.
Moreover, Minister for Water Resources Roshy Augustine also had received complaints on excess bills and intervened in the matter. He convened a meeting of Superintending Engineers of all districts and issued instructions to get water bills checked by inspectors before the meter reading was documented.
Following which, senior KWA officers were directed to take immediate action on wrong meter reading, lapses in notifying faulty meters and failure to record the phone number of consumers. The Minister also directed Assistant Engineers to ensure that no water meter in Kerala was faulty.
Water charge arrears
Meanwhile, the KWA asked consumers who had defaulted on paying water charges to clear their arrears as soon as possible. Consumers who have run up big amounts as arrears can pay in instalments at the sub-division/division/circle office concerned.
Charges could also be paid online at https://epay.kwa.kerala.gov.in/ or through various UPI apps.
Self-reading of meters
Offering much relief to consumers, KWA has introduced self-reading of water meters and an ‘e-tap’ facility for obtaining a new water connection without visiting the Authority’s offices. These two were among the five new software launched by Minister Roshy recently at the KWA headquarters in the presence of Managing Director S Venkatesapathy.
Under the self-reading facility, the consumer would receive an SMS with a link on his or her phone number when it is time to issue bills. After clicking the link, the consumer can record the meter reading, click a photo of the meter and submit. KWA officials will check the reading and send the bill amount again as an SMS. The bill could be paid online also. For more details, call KWA’s toll-free number 1916.
Utilizing ‘e-tap’, a person can obtain a water connection without visiting a KWA office even once. The applicant has to scan or photograph all relevant documents and send them to the KWA. Officials from the section office concerned would soon arrive at the consumer’s premises and carry out an inspection. Following which, the estimate for providing the connection and the plumber would be decided. The information would be sent as SMS to the applicant and on the amount being paid online, work to give the water connection would be started.