BENGALURU: The Water Supply Board’s attempts to regularise illegal water connections in the city and boost its revenue is encountering a formidable opposition: local political interference. With elections next year, the chances of leaders becoming more protective of the interests of their potential vote bank is bound to happen, said official sources.
Despite the attempts of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board to check water pilferage through vigilance squads as well as implementing the Unaccounted For Water Project, it has so far succeeded only in making nearly 600 connections legal. Altogether 1,656 illegal water connections continue to exist unchecked across the city. R T Nagar tops the list with 479 such connections while Yeswanthpur (262) and Shamanna Gardens (231) occupy the second and third positions (see box).
It is the Water Inspector, Assistant Executive Engineer and Assistant Engineer who face the music when they visit an area, said BWSSB sources. Dismantling the water meter provided by the Board and concealing it inside homes, taking an illegal connection along with the regular metered connection and tampering with the meter are among the irregularities detected by staff carrying out inspections.
While abuses and threats greet some officials who try to inspect homes, some staff are not even allowed to enter an area where many of its residents have illegal connections, a top official said. Often it is a big group that one or two BWSSB staff need to face.
“Supporters of the local corporator frequently intimidate the staff coming to an area for inspection and ask them to leave,” charged an official. “It is the henchmen of the area’s MLA sometimes,” he added.
The BWSSB hopes that the situation will improve at least in the slum clusters. “With the government recently promising free water up to 10,000 litres a month per family in designated slum areas, we hope that at least these families decide to pay up the amount due for water consumed beyond the free supply. This will come to a meager amount only,” said an official.