Jail for water thieves

DC | M. ROUSHAN ALI
Published Jan 30, 2014, 1:58 pm IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 8:25 am IST
Even tenants of houses having illegal connection can be booked.

Hyderabad: Those with illegal water connections can be imprisoned for up to five years. Six cases have been booked and at least three people have been arrested in the last two months for possessing illegal water connection at their residences.

Tenants too need to be careful while taking houses on rent. As per the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board Act, cases will be booked against the house owner, and if the house owner does not stay on the premises, criminal cases will be booked against the occupants whomsoever it may be, including tenants.

 

Revant, the tenant of a house in Yadav Nagar at Alkapuri of LB nagar  was arrested in December, after it was revealed during an inspection that a  disconnected water pipeline was re-connected without permission from the Board.

The owner of the house Purushotham Reddy stays abroad and was shown as absconding in the police report.

“Ask for the latest water bill and Consumer Account Number stating you want to submit your mobile number to the Water Board officials for SMS alert on bills. Every connection has been given a CAN. If there is no CAN, then it’s an illegal  connection,” said an official.

Sreedhar, a resident of Manikyanagar in Qutbullapur, was remanded to 14-day judicial custody recently for illegal water line.

Water Board has also started booking criminal cases against those having second connections.

“A second water connection is not allowed. They have to be surrendered. We (Board) will upgrade the existing water line from half inch to one inch depending on the feasibility and number of families staying in the building,” said Board director (revenue) P.S. Suryanarayana.

The Water Board supplies 340 MGD water in the city but gets paid for only 210 MGD. About 40 per cent water is unaccounted for.

Earlier, over 50 per cent water was unaccounted for but measures initiated by present MD J. Syamala Rao has brought down the UFW.

For years, illegal connections, second connections and unmetered connections have been eating into the revenues of the Board.

In another case, a criminal case was booked against one S. Reddy when Board officials noticed that he was illegally drawing drinking water from the water supply pipeline.

Suryanarayana said that those with illegal water connections could be booked for prosecution under Sections 52, read with Section-49 (1) (b) (c), of the HMWS&SB Act, 1989, and also Section-3 (2) (a) of the Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act, 1984 and Section 430 and 379 of the IPC.

The Board can also attach the properties of defaulters under the Revenue Recovery Act.

“Under these sections, the imprisonment can be up to five years,” he added.

The Board can also attach the properties of defaulters under the Revenue Recovery Act.

A “red notice” is issued to the defaulter stating it is the final notice and he or she will have to pay the bill along with arrears.

On non-payment of the bill, Form-I is issued stating that officials will come for attach the property and seven days is given to the consumer to pay up.

If the consumer still does not pay, Form-II is issued by officials for attaching the property. Almost 4,000 red notices have been issued till date.

City has over 1 lakh illegal connections

Hyderabad: There are over 1 lakh illegal water connections in Greater Hyderabad. A survey being conducted by the Administrative Staff College of India has revealed thousands of illegal connections in just the three surrounding municipalities of Malkajgiri, LB Nagar and Kukatpally.

The ASCI survey is also covering the number of families staying in a building, usage of water, sources of water, how much are they willing to pay, the quality of water etc.

“The Board wants to give one last opportunity to people to voluntary disclose their illegal connections and get them regularised,” said a source.

Earlier too, the Board had offered to regularise illegal connections but only 7,000 applications had been received. People had then complained that the penalty and other charges for regularisation were very high.

Keeping this in view, the officials are now being liberal while preparing a revised policy.

“This scheme will be available to those who voluntarily disclose their illegal connections. If the Board identifies the connections, then the penalty and other charges will be three times more than the earlier scheme,” said an official.

The HMWS&SB had earlier offered to regularize illegal water connections on payment of three years’ water consumption charges, two times connection charges and Rs 300 as service charges. The offer was not attractive, citizens had said.

Keeping this in view, the officials are now being liberal while preparing a revised policy and will charge only one year’s consumption charges and one-time connection charges.

“This scheme will be available to those who voluntarily disclose their illegal connections. If the Board identifies the connections, then the penalty and other charges will be three times more than the earlier scheme, besides, criminal cases will be booked against the illegal water connection holder,” said an official.

HMWS&SB managing director J. Syamala Rao said a new, liberal policy for regularization of illegal connections would be announced shortly.

“I appeal to the citizens to utilize this opportunity or face criminal cases including going to jail. We are going to be very stringent with water pilferers and also with our field staff for failing to identify illegal connections before our senior officials do it,” he said.

...
Location: Andhra Pradesh




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