Mangaluru, Feb 12, 2015: As per media reports, Social activist and Professor of Department of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology at Yenepoya University Dr Deepak Herald D’Souza claims to have exposed a water meter reader of Mangalore City Corporation tampering with the meter while issuing a water bill, at Kadri in Mangaluru.
He has also captured the entire scene in a video footage using a spy camera. Tampering results in loss to the MCC, he said. "I do not know, whether they tamper water meters of household connections. In my case, it was on a construction site where a building is coming up," Dr D’Souza stated.
The water billing system is outsourced to a private agency in Mangaluru. Accordingly, the meter reader attached to the agency issues bill on behalf of the MCC after reading the meter. Using hammer, he removed the upper portion of the water meter. He then adjusted the meter reading, clicked its photo and issued a bill, he said. On Feb 10, the day when Dr D’Souza decided to record the whole tampering process, the meter reader asked him to pay Rs 2,500. The meter reader reportedly told Dr Deepak that the actual water bill was Rs 10,000. when he visited the site four months ago, he had stopped the meter from functioning. Now I readjusted the meter reading.
Fake bill : Dr D’Souza said that the meter reader had visited the site four months ago. He had told me that I had to pay Rs 21,000. The bill amount would be reduced to Rs 6,500, provided he pays Rs 2,500 to him. "I had agreed to pay him Rs 2,500 to know how he tampers the meter. I was astonished when he generated the bill and handed it over to me. I had no proof to show how the meter was tampered," he said.
Following the first incident, Dr.Deepak had complained Lokayukta sleuths in Mangaluru. However, the official could not help me. I met MCC Commissioner to bring it to her notice. The Commissioner said that she was out of station and promised to look into it after she returns.
Stating that water meters can not be tampered with, MCC Assistant Executive Engineer Naresh Shenoy said that in normal circumstances, water meter can not be tampered. It may be possible to tamper at the service centres when given for repair. I have asked the person who has recorded the tampering of the meter to furnish the video footage to bring out the truth. Unless, I view the video, I can not come to a conclusion. If it is found true, we will initiate action against the meter reader and use the know-how to prevent such things.
In the new water billing system which was introduced from February 1, the water meter reader clicks the photograph of the meter using his smart phone, which gets uploaded in the server of the MCC. The bill is generated after reading the previous month’s meter in the billing machine. If water meters were not functioning, the consumers will get an alert stating "meter is not reading". If they did not get them repaired or install a new meter within a week, a remainder would be sent to their cellphones thereafter. The consumer also gets SMS alert after the bill is generated, Shenoy said.