Hyderabad: The TRS government's promise to provide free drinking water up to 20,000 litres (20 kilo-litres) would not provide any relief to middle and upper middle classes living in over 6,000 apartments, gated communities and townships, across the twin cities.
One of the prime reasons for low voting in percentage in the GHMC polls is because this section of people have stayed away from exercising their franchise since they have not been enjoying any sops from any of the successive governments, but gets to foot the tax bill.
According to the Hyderabad Water Supply and Sewerage Board's (HMWSSB) official records, the city has a total of 1.80 lakh connections. Among those, only 40,000 connections are non-domestic, which includes industries, theatres, multiplexes, beverage companies and others.
The TRS government’s decision to supply free drinking water supply up to 20 kilolitres will directly benefit about four lakh consumers, who have been living in 1,800 notified slums in the city. The board has been charging `10 per kilolitre until a slab of 15 kilolitres and `12 per kilolitre for anything above, which excludes `80 sewerage cess.
As per HMWSSB officials, about four lakh slum dwellers have been utilising under 15 kilolitres of water on an average per month. About two lakh individual households have been using 20 kilolitres per month on an average. About six lakh people living in slums and individual households would enjoy the benefits.
However, officials said the government’s announcement would not provide any relief to consumers who reside in apartments, gated communities and townships, among others.
The minimum consumption of a 100-flat apartment has been 300 kilolitres. The city has over 6,000 apartments with over 1,000 flats. The water board has been supplying water through a single pipeline as a unified connection, though in most apartments, water is shared among different flats.
Residents who are mostly from middle and upper middle classes would end up getting a benefit around 0.50 paisa per month per flat.
This, and such other issues, could have a direct impact on polling percentage, since this particular class has not been enjoying any fruits of government's sops. The city’s polling percentage did not even cross 45 per cent in GHMC polls of 2016, the Assembly polls in 2018 and the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
A senior water board official, on condition of anonymity, said that about four lakh consumers living in apartments, flats and gated communities would hardly enjoy the free drinking water announced by the KCR government. He said that though the water board is ready to implement the scheme, confusion prevails over whether to include sewerage cess or not.
The board official said that under the one time settlement scheme, the water board has already collected `300 crore, which would compensate the scheme until next financial year. There will be renewed pressure to increase water tariffs of commercial and domestic connections (gated communities) after that, he said.
Srinivas Krishna, a resident of Gachibowli, said, “poor people get sops. Rich people default on payments – bills or loans. Only the middle class pays its bills and taxes, and gets nothing from the system.”...