Ten Delhi Jal Board (DJB) employees have been suspended over alleged errors in water meter reading.
According to the Board, the government had received complaints about meter readers recording wrong reading, resulting in inflated bills. An audit was done by the DJB and its 10 meter readers, along with 20 meter readers engaged through an outsourced agency, were found taking wrong reading. Services of these 20 employees were terminated. A show cause notice has been issued to the agency, asking why the government must not blacklist it, and why action was not taken in such cases.
“Chief Minister Shri Arvind Kejriwal had received complaints of faulty meter reading. Since then, the CM took a strict view on the issue and directed the Water Minister and DJB Chairman Satyendar Jain to investigate the matter and bolster the system,” according to a communication from the DJB.
The Director (Revenue) of the DJB has been directed to get an FIR lodged against the meter readers for cheating and forgery.
After a meeting with DJB officials, Jain had announced recently that the water bill for one month cannot exceed 1.5 times the amount of the previous month. The DJB will give an explanation to the customer if the bill exceeds this, and the customer can file a complaint.
Revenue officials of the DJB will conduct random image audits of meter reading daily to verify them. Meter inspectors will be required to visit the site and recheck the reading if the images are not taken properly.
There will be an automatic system to stop billing from the meter readers’ tablet if the difference in consumption is more than 50% higher or lower when compared to the previous bill. In such cases, the bill will be generated by the Zonal Revenue Office of the DJB once the meter reading is confirmed.
Meter readers will also be deployed on a rotation basis, and they will be changed in every billing cycle. A senior official of the DJB said the number of connections has grown and the number of meter readers has reduced over the years with retirements, necessitating the outsourcing of meter reading to external agencies in some of the 41 zones in the city. The DJB has around 900 meter readers and 26,50,000 consumers. Of them, around 18,00,000 consumers avail of the government’s free water scheme.
Meter readers are equipped with tablets and are mandated to take a picture of all reading that will be audited regularly, he said.