Hyderabad: A staggering 40 per cent of water supplied to households, commercial establishments and small factories in Hyderabad is not paid for. Hyderabad is among the 10 cities in India with the highest number of illegal connections.
In the past five months, about 40,000 illegal water connection holders from the core city mainly, have asked for their connections to be regularised in response to a voluntary disclosure scheme. But this is a small number.
There are 9.2 lakh legal water connections, which pay for 60 per cent of the water supplied by the board, said municipal minister K.T. Rama Rao. As many as 60 per cent of illegal connections get the remaining 40 per cent of water without paying for it, according to board estimates.
The board says it has neither the manpower nor the technology to track and identify illegal users. The board supplies 390 million gallons of water a day.
Illegal connections include domestic connections where a household has one legal connection and another illegal one. Commercial outlets that pay domestic charges are also illegal.
In August 2016, the board introduced the voluntary disclosure scheme for regularisation of unauthorised water supply connections. This was the last chance for people who had unauthorised connections to get them regularised without paying any penalty. Mr Rao had given an assurance that all illegal connections would be brought under the net in the 100-day programme. However, non-revenue water (consumers who receive water they don’t pay for) continues to be 40 per cent of the water supplied.
A senior board official said it is extremely difficult to identify illegal connections as the pipelines have been taken from underground and some from the main line. To identify the illegal connections, the Board would have to dig up all the pipelines, he said.
“Inder the disclosure scheme, the board announced cash rewards for those who detect and report illegal connections. To our surprise, no complaints were registered. The Board staff has been directed to inspect division-wise to identify such connections and those identified will have to pay double the penalty. There is continuous effort to decrease the non-billed water supply,” the official said.
Expect call from Water Board call
The Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board has decided to get staff to call consumers personally and find out what grievances they may have regarding water supply and sewage issues. Around 10,000 numbers are to be called in a day, starting next week.
While this may be a laudable initiative, it should be noted that several grievances submitted on the Board’s online forums, social media platforms are still pending a solution.
Speaking to this newspaper, board managing director M. Dana Kishore said, “The total consumers of the Board are around 9.2 lakh, whose details including phone numbers and addresses are registered with the board. The Metro Board has appointed private employees to operate the call centre which operates 24x7. These employees will make calls to consumers (the registered 9.2 lakh connection holders) to inquire about grievances, if any. The issues will be escalated to the concerned department for quick redressal.”
Complaints received through HMWSSB mobile application, ’Dial your MD’, and the online forums will also be addressed. The board will also pick complainants randomly and ask about customer satisfaction....