Hyderabad: The Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) are at odds over the free water supply in the cantonment areas.
Even though the government started the free water scheme in SCB in February, many inhabitants continue to experience a severe lack of drinking water in several areas of the cantonment. According to sources at the SCB, the government has treated the cantonment like a second-class citizen when it comes to receiving free water while giving the GHMC top priority. The government announced 20 kilo-litre free water supply in the GHMC area in 2019, while the same scheme was implemented in SCB in 2022.
The main dispute point between the SCB and the GHMC seems to be the Rs 34 crore in pending arrears. The government has been pressing the SCB to pay the pending water bills, but the SCB is hoping that the government provides a waiver. The SCB contends that there would not have been any arrears on its part if the government had introduced the free water programme in SCB along with the GHMC area.
The officials argue that residents stopped paying their water bills in anticipation of the scheme being extended to the cantonment, which resulted in the arrears.
According to officials, the SCB was able to cater to water needs of only half the residents in the cantonment. More than 60,000 residents in SCB rely on water supplied by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB). SCB only receives water once every four days, and even then, the water supply is erratic and sometimes polluted.
"In SCB, we require 80 lakh gallons of water, but barely receive 45 per cent of that amount. The Cantonment has improved more than 80 per cent of its water supply infrastructure. At the very least 90 gallons of water can be absorbed by us. Despite numerous formal and legal petitions, the government ignores the Cantonment. When it comes to SCB-related matters, the administration ignores us,” according to a SCB official who asked to remain anonymous.
He stated that around 80 per cent of water pollution has been controlled. New pipelines have been made to minimise water contamination caused by drainage water. "Only 20 per cent of new pipelines must be completed for the Cantonment's clean water supply. For the same, money is required, but the government hasn’t sanctioned the necessary funds,” according to J. Ramakrishna, vice-president of SCB.
“Even though we are economically middle class, it doesn't mean we can purchase drinking water every day. The supply of water is very irregular. Sometimes it is supplied after 3 days, sometimes after 4 days. There is no proper time allotted for the water supply. Why are fake promises of free water made when they cannot be fulfilled,” said Mihir S, a resident of west Marredpally.
B Ajith Reddy, CEO of SCB, could not be reached for comment on the matter.