Hyderabad: Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS%SB) has landed in big trouble after the state government started implementing the 20 kilolitre free drinking water scheme for households in the twin cities. The board has been losing Rs. 19.2 crore of billing a month. Adding to the woes are other consumers who are not paying their bills, hoping that the scheme would be extended to them too.
According to highly placed sources, HMWS&SB is cash-starved as a result. It is unable to implement its capital works of water supply and sewerage handling worth around Rs. 20,000 crore placed before the government in 2017-18. Adding to woes is the latest demand of Rs. 3,800 crore for modernising sewerage networks in erstwhile municipal areas surrounding the state capital, which have now been merged with the GHMC. The Water Board has to also extend sewer networks covering all urban local bodies (ULBs) and gram panchayat within the Outer Ring Road (ORR).
While being burdened with such huge costs, HMWS&SB is also due payments from government departments. Sources said government departments and buildings in the city have to pay Rs. 180 crore water cess every year. But due to non-payment, Rs. 500 crore worth bills have piled up. Besides this, the cost of producing 1 kilolitre (KL) of drinking water has gone up from Rs. 14.40 per KL in 2002 to Rs. 25.50 per KL in 2011 and is now Rs. 47 per KL.
Amid all these expenditures, the government decision to dole out Rs. 400 crore to consumers for free drinking water has already pushed the board deeply into the red. The board is also facing a deficit of Rs. 120 crore due to non-payment of water bills. Due to shortage of funds, several projects of HMWS&SB have been running at snail's pace, while a few of them have come to a grinding halt.
A senior Water Board official, requesting anonymity, said it has been knocking on doors of every financial institution to fund its projects. He said the board has also written to the government that it be compensated for amounts pertaining to free drinking water scheme, apart from electricity bills and payments.
“We have requested the government and are awaiting its reply. If the government does not come to board's rescue, several projects would be at stake. There could even be possible interruptions in drinking water supply," he said.