Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has been doing the same since 2012 to create a water distribution and revenue collection system which is more efficient, transparent, and accountable. Serving the population of 23 Lakhs today, PCMC has been able to save 31,000 million litres of water in a year while measuring 90,000 million litres of water.
In 2011, the central government was pushing municipal corporations to install water meters in every household to charge them based on their consumption instead of flat billing methods.
While it is easy to bill people according to their house size or some preset rates, it is not so easy to bill them according to the actual water consumption without a constant and recurring stream of data from field operations. In this context, PCMC took the first step of meter installation in each house and commercial establishment but was still facing challenges.
“We primarily had three major challenges. Even after taking several strong steps, PCMC wasn’t able to bill all of its consumers. Even the consumers which were getting billed, not all of them were getting billed as per their actual consumption and third issue was rampant unauthorized and illegal consumption of water. These had a direct impact on our revenue, which had fallen significantly after installation of water meters in the city and was negatively impacting citizen trust in the system,” said Rajendra Morankar, Deputy Engineer – Water Department, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation.
In 2012, there were more than 15,000 pending disputes, 20,000+ unauthorized consumers and 28000+ non-metered consumers, consumers were receiving bills only once every year and citizens living in remote areas of PCMC did not even know about the water charges.
To tackle these challenges, a new water billing and analytics system was implemented by PCMC in coordination with Cranberry Analytics. To increase the influx of data from field operations which can aid in planning and policy making, a new team of 75+ meter inspectors equipped with specialized software and devices was deployed. These meter inspectors were responsible for geo-tagging all the properties in the city, finding and geo-tagging of unauthorized consumers and regular updation of customer master data.
Once the primary survey for the city was done, they started capturing water meter pictures, health status and meter readings on a regular interval. In a few years, this system was upgraded to an on the spot billing system, capable of generating bills and finding anomalies on the spot, bills were generated through a portable thermal printer and it was capable of accepting card payments through a Bluetooth POS machine.
“This system augmented the meter inspectors, who were visiting the citizen premises at a regular interval, to identify issues which were invisible earlier, for example, fluctuation in consumption patterns of a house is now immediately compared to other consumers who live in the same area and have similar connection size, after a multivariate analysis, if an anomaly is found, meter inspector is prompted immediately to do a deep dive in the issue, sometimes they find underground leakages, sometimes it maybe water theft. A lot of inconsistencies are detected and fixed due to this on-the-spot analysis,” he explained.
Earlier there was no mechanism to check the water consumption, or the bills paid. Now, with the meters installed and the regular data collection, PCMC always has the history of all the meter readings, meter pictures for each visit and the errors and warnings generated by the system. This, in addition with a smart bill rectification system, has resulted in resolution of all the pending disputes and turnaround time for dispute resolution has reduced from several months to a few minutes.
Using multiple dashboards, graphs, charts and reports, PCMC has also been able to augment their water distribution and has resulted in a more equitable and consistent supply. This has bolstered the consumer confidence which shows in increased revenues from Rs 24 crore per year to Rs 45 crore per year.
Number of bills being distributed per year has risen from about 90,000 to close to 8,40,000. More than 20,000 unauthorized consumers have been reported and regularized. Non-metered connections have reduced from 28,777 to 2,229. All of this has resulted in a marked decrease in annual water consumption, which has shown a downward trend after implementation of these systems despite a consistent increase in population since 2011, a minimum of 31,000 million litres of water is potentially being saved every year now.