Secunderabad Cantonment Board defends move, cites mounting input costs

This summer, residents of the Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) will not only have to deal with insufficient water supply but also bear higher water bills. The new rates will be effective April 1.

The SCB has approved a hike in monthly tariff for domestic consumers from Rs.125 to Rs.275 and for apartment buildings with 10 flats from Rs.1, 250 to Rs. 2,815. For every additional flat, the charges will be Rs. 337.50 as against the existing Rs. 150.

“We are shocked. Water is supplied once in three days at Karkhana, Mudfort, Kakaguda, Vasavi Nagar, Sikh Village and many other areas. It would be better if authorities improve water supply than increase charges,” says A.E. Vijay Kumar, secretary, Secunderabad Cantonment Citizen Welfare Association.

Big price to pay

Regularisation charges of unauthorised water connections have also been increased from Rs.10, 000 to Rs.15, 000. Further, authorities have set a deadline of March 15 for regularising illegal connections. There are nearly 15,000 water connections in over 300 residential colonies and 125 slums. But there could be at least 10,000 illegal connections across the cantonment, concedes a senior official.

Four special teams have been formed to detect illegal connections and if any, apart from levying huge penalty, water connections would not be sanctioned to such consumers, said the official. The new charges have been approved by the SCB’s elected board members. The file will now be sent to the SCB President Sunil S. Bodhe for formal approval, he said.

The rationale

Defending the move, authorities list out many reasons for increasing water charges. The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB), which supplies about 45 lakh gallons a day to the SCB, had already increased water charges from Rs. 6.50 per kilolitre to Rs. 13.50 per kilolitre since November 2011.

Revenue collections

The SCB runs up a monthly water bill of about Rs.1.06 crore, while its revenue collection is to the tune of Rs. 30 lakh, an SCB official said. The last time water charges were raised was in June 2008 — from Rs. 86 per month to Rs. 125. Since then, maintenance costs have gone up drastically and so has the demand for water. Every month, about Rs. 20 lakh is required for power supply and maintenance of pump houses in the SCB. Considering all these, charges have to be increased, says the official.

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