What did my water bill tell me? – Deconstructing tariff

May 2, 2007

Water billWater billWater bill

I am connected to the city mains for my water supply as are you I guess if you are in urban India.The bill comes to me once a month. I do not even bother looking at it and pay it because it is small, until now that is. While travelling in a bus to Mysore (btw I live in Bangalore) and the battery on my mobile phone dead the only option was reading to amuse myself. I dived into my purse to get some money for

a magazine and came out with an old water bill. Read the magazine

– not interesting- then started to read the water bill out of sheer boredom.

Now this was hugely interesting. Let us see what it tells me about the water supply provider in our fair city, Bangalore.

Firstly that I get a bill looks like I have to pay on volumetric consumption. Ah ha , not many cities do that. They collect

a flat

tariff or charge it on the property tax. Experts agree that volumetric tariff is good because you pay for what you get.

You are rewarded for

good behaviour i.e. less consmption and punished for over consuming. Great beginning for Bangalore’s water supply.

The reverse side of the bill first if you please. It talks about a sanitary cess. Hmmmm.. I pay for my sewage too, very funny. I flip the bill around, hey

I consume less than 25,000 litres every month, just 7000 this month and so i pay a flat sum of Rs 15 for all the shi… that

I send into the drain. Pretty cheap huh.

Then I come down , what’s this? A differential slab for my water bill. If i consume less than 8000 litres I pay at Rs 6 / a

kilolitre. So now that i have consumed 7 kilolitres my bill should be 6 x 7 = Rs 42 ah ha a right royal sum. Hey but these guys charge me Rs 48/-? How come? That is a minimum then, so I harvest rain, use it and consume less but i pay Rs 48 /- nonetheless.Might as wellhave consumed the 1000 litres . Would’ve been free for me. .. and where is the incentive for harvesting rain? Let it be.

But lookat, the guys in the hotel business pay something called non domestic rates which is high and the industrial consumers are rogered , they pay Rs 60/= on top of which a cess of 20% thats Rs 72/- a kilo litre. No wonder they drift to a bore well or a private water tanker. That costs a lot less.

But whats this? A bore well cess of Rs 50 /- a month per house . Thank god I do not have one. So these guys must have a count of the number of bore wells in the city or atleast

wherever they have extended their connection. very interesting. Now if they could put a meter to the bore wells at least

we would know how much groundwater is being consumed in this city. Got to work on that with these guys.

There is message to conserve water. Are these people serious. In Kannada there is a dire warning not to employ child labour.

Wonderful look at the social concern of these guys. but wait no ‘lifeline ‘ water for the poor. 6000 litres per month per family free.

Like in South AFRica that would have been good.

Now the front side. The bottom line says if connection is not made by due date then disconnection process will be

initiated. Hey what was the last date for payment? 27/09/2006 I see on the top right side. Good that I have paid

on time. These guys are also gentle. They at least don’t say that they will disconnect. Only begin a process.

Hopefully there will be a notice. I generally am late for everything so guys like me deserve a notice. is there a fine or a

late payment fee? hmmm… nothing about that. Got to find out more from the sub division I guess. Which is it? N3 says

the bill. Informative. What does N-33 and RR no. and consumer i.d mean. ? I’m a number and I know what that means?

There is a meter reading date and last date for paymet nt is 15 days from that day. Great 15 days. but do these guys send

me the bill on the date of the reading itself? Gotta check sometime. Then there is the water charge.. that I understand and

a meter charge of Rs 10/-? Hey I pay for the meter. The meter costs about Rs 600 /- methinks. Do these guys stop after

60 months and they have collected Rs 600/- Nope . I built my house in 1994 and this is circa 2006 and yet the meter charge.

Must be for the meter reading methinks. Oh alright about that one then. What is this S.C for bore wells? Sanitary charge

looks like. If I use water from a bore well obviously the sewage goes to the system for which these guys are responsible.

So a sanitary cess on bore well water use. Rs 50/- a month too. If only these people could put a meter on the bore well.

they would have known exactly how much sewage is entering the system from bore well water not to mention how much

bore wells are used in the city. Bangalore is one of the first city in India to do this. Great going guys. Hey there is an arrears of Rs 4/ What happened? I didn’t pay 4 bucks to these guys last month? .. and they keep tabs on that. Wonderful.

I see that I can pay my bill 24 hours at their kiosks. That is great. I get water 2 hours every alternate day but these guys

collect money 24/7 Must be a World Bank plot. That Paul Wolfinsheepsclothing and his girfriend. Grr… Must rally with

the anti privatisation and anti world bank guys next time. Remind me to take out my khadi clothes and jhola.

Finally there is some kind of bar code at this end. Modernity and swiping machines i guess.

Now how many cities in India have this kind of a bill and this kind of a water supply? Would be god to compile.

Guys and girls please help and send me your water bills. Just a copy will do from anytown India. We’ll discuss that in the

coming blogs.. that is if you are not fed up with this one ๐Ÿ™‚



  1. Nice analysis

  2. Yo m’man,
    I don’t know if the reference to Paul Wolfensohn’s girlfriend is deliberate or note (the real Paul who has a girlfriend problem is Wolfowitz)

  3. Vijay,
    Paul Wolf (owitz, ensohn,insheeps clothing)and yes I allude to the current head of IMF who is Paul Wolfowitz

  4. I agree with Chitralekha. Makes the water bill (hitherto uninteresting) very interesting indeed! but i wish the sentences wouldn’t cut off like that (at least on my screen i can’t read complete sentences).

  5. I stumbled on this by accident – made interesting reading. I am not in India but the UK and trust me, things are no better here! However, bearing in mind the water situation in many other countries I should be grateful of a tap to turn and the fact that clean safe water comes out. . . something to think about and pretty humbling really. We really ought to be grateful for what we have and count our blessings – daily – even if there is a bill attached! ๐Ÿ™‚ PS the sentences cut off on mine too Nandini!

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