Water bill refund for 3 lakh Hyderabad homes

Deccan Chronicle.  | Maddy Deekshith

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A whopping 5.60 lakh consumers out of total 10.8 lakh have already availed the free drinking water scheme

To be eligible for the scheme, a consumer should link Aadhaar and have a functional water meter, however, meters are not required for consumers if their locality falls under the slum category. Representational image/AFP

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) has decided to refund water bills which were paid by the consumers who availed the 20-kilolitre free drinking water scheme in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits.

Authorities said over 3 lakh consumers would receive the refund. The water board did not give any clarity to consumers who failed to avail the scheme within the first cut-off date (April 30) and cleared bills in May and June. The HMWS&SB officials did not even prepare a mechanism nor issued guidelines to consumers who paid the bills and just asked them to continue Aadhaar seeding till August 15 without a mention of rebate.

The HMWS&SB, on July 6, suspended issuing of water-cum-sewerage bills for domestic consumers up to August 15. Under the scheme, 2.5 lakh households with water meters and 2 lakh slum households are supposed to receive free 20,000 litres of water per month. To be eligible for the scheme, a consumer should link Aadhaar and have a functional water meter, however, meters are not required for consumers if their locality falls under the slum category. For people living in apartments, consumers need to link Aadhaar for individual flats against their property tax identification (PTIN) number. Only the flats linked against PTIN number and Consumer Account Number (CAN) number on or before August 15 will be eligible for the scheme. Consumers who registered post-August 15 will be served with the water bill from December 2020 to August 2021. Interest will not be levied on such consumers and they need to pay the bill in September.

A whopping 5.60 lakh consumers out of total 10.8 lakh have already availed the free drinking water scheme. The water board issued five months bills from January to April to about 4.8 lakh consumers who have not seeded the Aadhaar with the CAN. HMWS&SB officials said 41 percent out of the total 4.8 consumers had already cleared their water bills since they did not link Aadhaar with CAN on or before April 30. About 1.5 lakh consumers who have not done Aadhaar seeding during the first cut-off date have availed the scheme during the extension period. The authorities said the government had asked the water board to give rebate/refund to the consumers who availed the scheme prior to the cut-off date (August 15).

A senior water board official on condition of anonymity said the government had asked HMWS&SB to prepare a mechanism prior to the rebate/refund announcement. He said till now, about 2.90 lakh consumers cleared their water bills despite being in the free scheme bracket. The official said most of them had availed the free drinking water during the extension period. He said once the government announced refund or rebate, over three lakh consumers would be benefitted.

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