Those who were paying Rs 75 per month are now required to pay anywhere from Rs 400 to Rs 500.
Just a few months ago, a company called JUSCO completed installation of their pipes and meters in addition to the existing ones, promising 24×7 water and better customer service. Residents had to pay anywhere form Rs 500 to Rs 2000 to install T-sections, complete the piping from the curb to the water meter, and patch up the masonry.
I’ve always wondered why Mysore, home to Sir M.Visvesvaraya, one of the greatest civil engineers and water management gurus in the history of mankind, had to knock on the doors of a Jamshedpur Utilities & Services Company Ltd for distributing its own water.
Why didn’t a MUSCO do this?
Would it have been too good for the consumer, or for the employees?
Anyway. Today, there is neither the 24×7 water (it’s more like 3×5), nor the better customer service. But there’s a five times hike in the water bill. The quality of water has reduced considerably in the last twenty years.
We used to drink directly from the tap twenty years ago, but today we’re forced to buy water filters or UV or RO machines or risk health problems – and these machines need maintenance to the tune of Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 per year, plus the electricity charge and the area they occupy in the kitchen.
Coming back to the issue at hand, corporators of the Mysore City Corporation, upon receiving complaints from a handful people like me are asking people to not pay the water bill, but are shying away from making public statements to the same effect.
MLA and Mysore district in-charge, S. A. Ramdas has issued a statement that the price hike will be withheld. But nothing has happened on the ground, as we just received the water bill with the increased rate.
When I contacted the MCC (Mysore City Corporation) public relations officer, M. V. Sudha (mobile phone number: 9449859915), she explained that the MCC is basically out of funds, hinting that revenue from water is inevitable. K. S. Raykar, commissioner, MCC, didn’t pick up the phone.
If what M.V. Sudha says is right—that the MCC is starved of funds—and I have strong reasons to believe that she is, then everything falls in place.
The MCC is starved of funds because it is not allowed to make revenue to even sustain itself, because of the lopsided ‘democracy’ in which we live, where the concentration of power increases with distance from the people: New Delhi wields more power than Bangalore which, in turn, wields more power than Mysore, over Mysoreans!
Is this democracy?
Barely ninety nine years ago, in 1913, right here in Mysore, His Highness Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar concluded a treaty with Edwin Montagu, under-secretary of State, government of (British) India.
According to the treaty, which clarified the relationship between the State of Mysore and the Government of India, the Maharaja obtained full powers of internal administration, subject only to the general supremacy and paramountcy of the British government – something his father, His Highness Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar did not enjoy.
But in less than 34 years, amidst the waving of flags in New Delhi and elsewhere, and the bursting of crackers and some meaningless riots near Lahore and Calcutta, His Highness Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar lost all the power his father had obtained in the treaty with Montagu.
It appears that he became worse than the corporator I called today, in terms of the power he came to hold. Of course, some money was thrown in into his kitty, going under the name of privy purse, in return for agreeing to a slight change of job description: king to pawn.
Sir M. Visvesvaraya saw with his own eyes how the Maharaja of Mysore was relieved of nearly all his powers by the Government of India (the free one, the Indian one) which consequently reduced the autonomy and powers of internal administration of the State of Mysore.
What was the State of Mysore has today literally transformed into a municipal corporation, and this municipal corporation is not even the ‘glorified municipal corporation’ that J. Jayalalitha recently talked about when she accused the Central government of undermining federalism.
That glory goes to the government of Karnataka, not to the municipal corporation of Mysore.
Wrote Sir MV, expressing hope that things would change and decentralization would happen as the passing phase passed:
The States are now, for all political purposes, closely integrated with the Centre and though they are units of the Federation, they occupy, in actual working, a lower subordinate position than what they held under the British administration. It is hoped that this is only a passing phase in the evolution of the new democracy. (Sir. M. Visveswaraya, Memoirs of My Working Life, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1960, p. 58)
Clearly, Sir MV had hoped for too much. The ‘phase’ has neither passed, nor shows any signs of passing. New Delhi continues to be the new Paramount Power in India – with a paramountcy surpassing that of the British.
In the meanwhile, the greatest minds of Mysore – Engineers, Doctors, CAs, MBAs, etc., have all gone away, or have all turned away, while their aged parents are waiting for money orders to pay the increased water bill with.