Panel orders Kerala Water Authority to pay consumer ₹65,000 in compensation

January 31, 2024 08:11 pm | Updated February 01, 2024 01:30 am IST - KOCHI

The Ernakulam District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has ordered the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) to pay a compensation of ₹65,000 to a consumer on charge of not supplying drinking water despite paying the bill.

The Commission comprising D.B. Binu, president, and members, including V. Ramachandran and Sreevidhia T.N. issued the verdict on a petition filed by Mariamma A.K., of Champakkara at Maradu. The Commission also decreed that KWA’s act of securing a special undertaking from the petitioner assuring not to complain and to pay the bill without fail even if there was no water supply amounted to an unfair trade practice.

“...that they will not file complaints against the Kerala Water Authority for non-supply of water due to shortages or unavailability. They also express willingness to pay the minimum water charge stipulated by prevailing regulations, even if water is not provided through their connection. The presentation of this special undertaking by the opposite party is seen as an unjust enrichment and an unfair trade practice, especially given their monopoly over water supply in the State of Kerala,” observed the Commission.

The Commission also directed the assistant executive engineer of KWA at the Thripunithura sub division to ensure uninterrupted water supply to the petitioner.

Despite having a domestic water connection since May 2018, the complainant has faced consistent issues with the water supply. The complainant pointed out that despite paying water bills, the actual water supply has been insufficient. This, the petitioner alleged, amounted to an unfair trade practice, negligence, and deficiency in service on the part of KWA.

Notwithstanding a written complaint to the Superintending Engineer of KWA in September 2018, the situation didn’t improve. KWA dismissed all the allegations while stating that the water connection was initially not sanctioned as the complainant’s residence was at at the tail end of the distribution main line with a potential for insufficient water supply. The connection was eventually granted after receiving the special undertaking from the petitioner. KWA further claimed that the petitioner didn’t address the technical issue pointed out at her end.

They also noted that there was an ongoing project to strengthen the distribution system in the area and that the neighbours of the complainant also faced similar water scarcity issues while demanding the dismissal of the complaint.

“Access to clean water is a basic need and inherent to the right to life, as stipulated under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution,” the Commission said while turning down KWA’s demand.

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