In a bid to counter the relentless attack by the Opposition BJP on the issue of availability of water in the city, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Thursday broke her silence and offered substantial relief to consumers of the Delhi Jal Board.

Addressing the Delhi Assembly, Ms. Dikshit, who is also the DJB Chairperson, said: “The DJB has decided to provide substantial relief to consumers by waiving off their accumulated late payment surcharge.”

Domestic consumers now will also be allowed to make payments of actual arrears in six instalments by March 31, 2014, she said, adding that “in case they make payment of full arrears by July 31, 2013, they will become eligible for a rebate of 30 per cent on their actual arrears.” Ms. Dikshit attributed the cases of billing errors and elongated billing periods to the transition to the new Revenue Management System (RMS).

“Due to changing over to the new system and transfer of huge data and its cross checking and verification, the incidents of wrong billing are being reported by the consumers,” she admitted, adding a few errors are due to earlier manual records. Ms. Dikshit explained that DJB has introduced the RMS which enables consumers to pay and track their bills online and will provide facilities for new connections, disconnections, re-opening and mutation of accounts.

The DJB will also introduce the facility of immediate acknowledgement of bill payment through SMS on registered mobile numbers within two months. “The DJB has introduced multiple modes of payment like making of payments through Jeevan Centres, kiosks, zonal revenue office and selected branches of specified banks in order to make payment easier and more convenient,” she said. Besides, a dedicated helpline 23612222 has also been commissioned to respond to the consumers’ queries and address grievances on billing.

The waiver of full late payment surcharge levied on water bills also extends to consumers in jhuggi jhonpri and resettlement colonies. “They have also been given the facility to make payment of actual arrears in instalments like other consumers and will also be eligible to a further rebate of 30 per cent on their actual arrears if paid by July 31,” she said.

“The DJB has also extended floor-wise benefit to consumers with metered connection in jhuggi jhonpri and resettlements colonies and it has been decided that consumption will be divided among the number of floors in respect of single water connections in multi-storeyed units. This has been done to allow the benefit of floor-wise connections and lower consumption slabs,” said Ms. Dikshit.

“Unmetered connections will be given floor-wise benefit from the date of installation of water meter,” she said, urging consumers to get their water meters installed. “DJB is also striving to improve the equitable supply and management of water.”

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