Ghaziabad residents are confused as to why they have to pay Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) for water, sewer services and maintenance.
"The builder had received a sewer and water bill worth more than Rs 18.6 lakh from GDA last year," said Rajeev Munshi, a resident of Gaur Valerio, a residential society in Ahinsa Khand 2 in Indirapuram. "Since the bill was not paid, GDA sent another bill worth Rs 26 lakh this February, which is to be paid by March 31. And the bill was addressed to residents. The strange thing is that we do not even receive Ganga jal, despite having a connection. The society's sewage system is a mess, as it gets choked every now and then. Why do we have to pay these charges?"
Like Munshi, there are many Indirapuram residents who face similar problems regarding GDA water and sewage maintenance charges.
GDA is yet to hand over Indirapuram's maintenance to Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation (GMC), which is set to happen only after the master plan of the area is properly executed by the development authority.
In March 2014, GDA had been challenged by the Federation of AOAs (FedAOA) in Allahabad High Court over the arbitrary manner in which the charges were being collected from residential societies. "The High Court had observed that there were discrepancies in GDA's charges. Subsequently, GDA approached Supreme Court, where the case went to them through an ex parte order," said Alok Kumar, president of FedAOA.
City Spidey took up the issue with Chakresh Jain, executive engineer of GDA. Jain said GDA started charging for maintenance at a quarter of the prevalent rate the moment a plot was allotted to a builder, and that continued till possession of flats. He said the charges were imposed on flat owners after possession of flats. The current rate of maintenance is Rs 3.20/sq ft, which means bigger flats pay higher charges.
"The charges have to be paid by flat owners, even if the society is under the builder's management," added Jain. "Till an AOA/RWA is formed, either the builder facilitates the payment or flat owners pay individually. After the association is formed, the responsibility lies on the resident body."
On being asked about the sorry state of water supply and the sewer blockage in Ahinsa Khand 2, Jain said efforts were being made to fix the problem. "The upcoming state assembly elections are a minor roadblock to getting things sorted out, but once that's over, work will resume in full flow," said Jain. "As per court orders, we have a consultant on board, but the consultant's agreement could not be finalised due to the model code of conduct imposed on the district. The consultant will submit a report on the water supply and sewage network of Ahinsa Khand 2, which will be followed by implementation of suggested improvements."
On being asked about the consequence of not paying the charges on time, a GDA official said it was difficult to take any action, as all flats had common sewer and water connections. The official also said that the lines could not be blocked for all residents just because some flat owners did not pay on time.