Mangaluru, February 12: A secret operation has reportedly revealed the smart way in which few billing agents alter the water meters in order to delight the customers, there by cheating the MCC of a huge amount. Along with this, they also demand for a certain amount for the help rendered and make a business out of this.
Dr Deepak D’Souza, professor at Yenepoya University and member of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) recorded the video secretly which was revealed in a press meet on Wednesday, February 11th at a press meet held in press club here.
The video shows an authorized water billing agent, named as Thaufiq, tampering the water meter and issuing the reduced, manipulated bill to the building owner at Bendur.
Dr Deepak D’Souza said that the meter reader employed by the MCC who came to issue water bill to his apartment, offered him to provide a manipulated bill by tampering the meter. He also demanded a fee of Rs 300 per Rs 1000 deduced from the actual bill.
The agent tampered the meter and reduced the water bill from Rs 21,000 to Rs 6,000 causing a loss of Rs 15,000 to MCC. He later demanded his commission of Rs 2,500. The agent used a hammer to open the water meter, reversed the reading and fixed it back. He said that none can spot the tampering as the seal remains intact, adding that it was a secret between only him and the owner. He also said that the meter reader does it only for few persons.
He also explained that when he came four months ago, he had stopped the meter from running which meant the water consumption was not recorded during this period. In the video, he said he started the meter again with a slight increase to save money.
In the video, the agent also admits that he has been faking the water bill for a few builders in the city.
Dr Deepak had brought this matter to the notice of Lokayuktha officer, but he expressed his helplessness about the menace and informed that the billing contract has been handed over to private agency and that the meter reader was a private employee.
Dr Deepak approached MCC commissioner Hephziba Korlapati regarding the manipulation of meter and water bill, she assured to study the case and take appropriate actions. He expressed his concern over the loss of revenue to the MCC. The MCC which has 80,000 connections within its limits, normally earns revenue of Rs 35 crore.
Mayor Mahabala Maarla, speaking to the media said that the MCC has received several complaints about the tampering of water meter by billing agents and since February 1st, the contract has been handed over to another agency. The billing agent can only take a photo of the reading which gets uploaded on the system and is not permitted to open the meter.
He also said, Dr Deepak D’Souza who has shot the video can meet him in person.