OTS scheme fails to get good response in Ludhiana city

Regularisation of illegal water, sewerage connections

OTS scheme fails to get good response in Ludhiana city

Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 11

The one-time settlement (OTS) scheme launched by the state government for regularisation of illegal water and sewerage connections, it seems, has not found favour with residents. Of an estimated more than two lakh illegal connections in the city, the Municipal Corporation has till now received just 5,000 odd applications for regularisation.

The scheme, which was introduced on August 25, 2021, would remain open till November 24, 2021.

Officials of the operation and maintenance (O&M) branch of the MC admitted that a majority of residents having illegal water and sewerage connections were not interested in getting these regularised on payment of nominal one-time fee and user charges only because they were being misguided by small- time political leaders. These politicians promised residents to protect them from any penal action or disconnection of water supply and sewerage connections, they added.

A senior MC official said it was a one-time opportunity for those having illegal water/sewerage connections to get these regularised and pay user charges if their plot area was more than 125 square yards. And such residents only had to pay a one-time fee of Rs200 for the regularisation of connections, he said. Plots upto 125 square yards were exempted from user charges, he added.

As per the notification issued by the Local Government Department, Punjab, in this regard, if illegal water and sewerage connections were not regularised during the three-month window, defaulters would have to pay 100 per cent penalty on one-time fee and interest on user charges. And for those failing to fall in line even after three months of the closure of the scheme, harsher action such as disconnection of such illegal connections in addition to recovery of penalty and interest on arrears, was in the offing.

A senior MC functionary observed that more or less, city residents had got used to non-payment of local taxes, especially the user charges for water supply and sewerage.

“Arrears of water supply and sewerage charges have mounted to over Rs300 crore, which shows that defaulters are reluctant to pay for utilities,” said the official.

In such a scenario wherein arrears of user charges were mounting with every passing month and defaulting residents had no fear of law, the laxity or in many cases connivance of field staff of the MC could not be ruled out, said a former councillor.

Only 5,000 applications received

Of an estimated more than two lakh illegal connections in the city, the Municipal Corporation has till now received just 5,000 applications for regularisation. The scheme, which was introduced on August 25, 2021, would remain open till November 24.

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