Mumbai, June 24 (IANS) Embarrassed after RTI revelations that the official residences of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and several other cabinet ministers figured on the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) list of water bill ‘defaulters’, the state government clarified that the payments were made last November.
According to a statement by the Public Works Department – which oversees the maintenance of all official residences and other properties – the water bills were paid in November 2018, but owing to certain ‘discrepancies’ in the earlier bills and the latest bills received in May, the process to clear them was stopped.
It stated that the process is being resumed immediately after tallying the ‘differences’ in the bills of ‘Varsha’ bungalow – the Chief Minister’s official residence – and the official residences of 18 other ministers.
In a reply under the Right To Information Act, provided to an activist Shakeel A. Shaikh, the BMC had revealed that the Chief Minister’s residence ‘Varsha’ had unpaid water bills of Rs 744,981, besides the Maharashtra government’s official guest house ‘Sahyadri’ with an outstanding of Rs 12,04,390, and other ministers’ houses.
The total outstandings only from the ministerial bungalows, including ‘Varsha’, was around Rs 4.5 million, Shaikh said, quoting the RTI replies from the BMC.
“Besides these ministerial bungalows, the PWD has another huge outstanding of total Rs 8 crore from various other government properties and residences of top officials. All these have been declared as ‘defaulters’, but no action has been initiated by BMC in the matter,” Shaikh told IANS.
A majority of the bills are pending since over the past eight months, he added.
The PWD further stated that clearing bills is an ongoing process involving constant coordination with the BMC.