City Correspondent

GUWAHATI, Feb 8: Thanks to lax policing, water meters worth more than Rs 30,000 have been stolen from Pub Sarania area under Chandmari Police Station alone in the last three days. The police do not have any clue about the thieves as yet.

Officer-in-Charge of Chandmari Police Station Pradip Haloi said that the police have so far received only four complaints regarding water meter theft in the last three days. But according to the Jal Board, more than 15 incidents have been reported in the area.

A resident of Pub Sarania main road, Bharadwaj Bhattacharya who lodged an FIR at Chandmari Police Station today, said that one of the incidents happened in his house in broad daylight on Sunday.

“No one was present at the house when the incident occurred. The water meter was installed near the boundary wall. It is a shocking incident for me. It was stolen by someone who is highly skilled in this field. The Jal Board had charged Rs 8,500 for a new water supply connection which is not yet functional and which includes the meter cost,” he said.

The residents claimed that the machines were not installed in a secure manner.

“The residents of Pub Sarania area have been witnessing a rise in theft cases, some of which were reported even in broad daylight. The residents have been demanding police patrolling in the area but no step has been initiated yet. Repeated theft of water meters has proved the total failure of the police,” another resident of Pub Sarania said.

When contacted, a senior official of the Guwahati Metropolitan Drinking Water and Sewerage Board said, “Most of the victim customers had already approached us for installing new meters. We will install the meters shortly. However, the customers will have to bear part of the meter costs.”

“After the installation, it is the customers who are responsible for any damage or loss of the water meters,” he added.

However, the official did not inform the exact amount to be paid by the customers for installation of a new water meter.

“There are some brass metallic and copper metallic articles used for making of water meters which might have attracted the thieves,” the official said.

The Jal Board had installed around 450 water meters in the Pub Sarania area under the JICA-assisted project which is likely to be in operation in the next few months. The price of each meter is Rs 2,161.

The water supply connection and installation of meter under project is still continuing in places like Sarbodaya Nagar, Bhaskar Nagar and Pandu. The Jal Board had provided a contract to a consultancy firm to carry out the task.

The Guwahati Metropolitan Drinking Water and Sewerage Board had notified the consumers in the city in 2019 to apply for a house connection project. The Jal Board had fixed Rs 8,000 to Rs 45,000 from the public as security money and processing fees to take fresh connection. Thereafter, the Board had started providing connections with water meters in the city.

It is to be mentioned here that such an incident of water meter theft was reported in the city last year also. On March 17 last year, Jalukbari police had arrested two persons from Jalukbari in connection with water meter theft. The police also recovered various brass metallic and copper metallic articles used in the water meters.