Hyderabad: The Metropolitan Water Board has been losing Rs 324 crore through theft, but has termed the loss as ‘leakage’.
For many years, the board has been claiming that about 40 per cent out of the 450 million gallons a day (MGD) of water supplied to the city every day is lost due to leakage and lack of storage capacity.
However, a preliminary report compiled by a consultant hired by the water board revealed that the water was stolen and not lost in leaks as reported. The report pegged leakages at 2 per cent and said the rest of the water was unaccounted for.
The Water Board has a capacity to hold 450 MGD against 650 MGD drawn from various sources including the Krishna and Godavari rivers. This overdrawing of water is not just a waste of water but also jacks up the electricity bill by Rs 80 crore.
Sources said while the water board officials look the other way, several residents have been drawing water illegally from the main pipelines. Besides, a ‘water mafia’ draws water and sells it for higher prices to commercial establishments.
But the water board officials insist that the ‘unaccounted water’ is leaking from reservoirs, pipeline damages and illegal water connections. The sources said if the water board officials’ claims were true then all 200 MGD that was said to have leaked every day should have increased the groundwater levels in the city.
Since the groundwater level remains low, it is obvious that water is not leaking from reservoirs.
It is also clear that officials are allowing the siphoning off of water and are manipulating the revenue. Admitting that 40 per cent of water supply was unaccounted for, a senior official told this newspaper that the board had hired a consultant to study the issue.
He said the consultant had inspected the city’s 130 reservoirs and had stated that only 2 per cent of water leaked from 54 reservoirs.
The official said the water board could earn Rs 13 crore every month if it spent Rs 8 crore on repairing the leakages. He said it would take eight months and Rs 1,000 crore to minimise water wastage.
The water board, on an average, collects Rs 107 crore as water charges; it could generate another Rs 13 crore revenue per month if the unaccounted for water wastage is checked.
Recently, the water board has attributed the complaints of water pollution to the old pipelines laid decades ago in the southern parts of the city....