HYDERABAD: Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) has finally initiated steps to put an end to the long standing water problem. With dues to be paid to the Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) mounting, SCB has come up with the one-time settlement option to clear pending water bills and regularise all illegal water connections.
As part of one-time settlement option, all the water dues in lower income group areas, will be cleared either by paying Rs 5,000 or 25 percent of the bill, whichever is higher. Besides settlement of old dues all illegal connections will also be regularised if the residents pay the stipulated fee by November 15.
With more than 10,000 water connections being estimated as illegal in SCB limits, officials are expecting a huge spurt in revenue due to the regularisation initiative. They are also estimating a recurring income of Rs 2 crore every month due to regularisation of water connections.
‘’Every month SCB is paying about Rs 2 crore to HMWSSB and they still have to pay Rs 34 crore dues to the wWater board. Now they are pressuring us to pay at least Rs 4 crore. Unless we increase our revenue we cannot bridge the gap and ensure that water is supplied to all areas regularly,” S Keshava Reddy, vice president of SCB, said.
The situation is so deplorable in Cantonment that in several areas, most of which are slums, drinking water is supplied once in ten days or 15 days. While officials complain evasion of water bills as reason for poor water supply to some areas, residents complain of lack of water supply for non-payment of bills.
“Officials are only concerned about water bills. How will someone pay water bills if water is supplied just once or twice in a month. Leave about financial status, how will residents live if water is not supplied at last once in week or ten days?” questions A Ramulu, a resident of Annanagar.
In order to put an end to this tricky situation, SCB has finally come up with the settlement option and is also planning to streamline water supply and water bill collections. Officials will organise camps and will also personally visit homes to collect the amounts. In order to facilitate people from lower income groups, even the minimum amount to be paid for clearing old bills or for regularisation will be lowered in slums if needed.
“Negligence and lack of planning is the main reason for perennial water problem in Cantonment area. Therefore one settlement option will not just help SCB in increasing revenue but also residents for regularising their water connections. But officials should put the same focus on supplying water after streamlining the whole system,” opined PSRA Sarma, president of Sancharpuri Residents Welfare Association.