A cash-strapped Water Board tightens screws on defaulters, recovering dues, disconnecting water supply and, if required, attachment and auction
Concerned over a mounting deficit, the Water Board has decided to go after defaulters in a big way. Clear-cut targets have been given to each division with regard to the recovery of dues and disconnections to be effected during the month itself.
Each Deputy General Manager has been asked to serve Form I notices under the Revenue Recovery Act to 10 chronic dodgers for attachment of movable property, besides issuing 100 red notices to consumers whose arrears are above Rs. 50,000. The target set for disconnection of water supply is even higher.
Every division has been tasked with severing four dockets. Each docket covers 1,500 to 2,000 connections.
Such punitive measures are expected to bridge the widening gap between the Board’s revenue and expenditure. Accumulated arrears towards water charges run into a whopping Rs. 735 crore from the non-governmental sector – both domestic and commercial. Of this, at least Rs. 100 crore is under dispute. Government departments also owe a substantial Rs. 189 crore.
The Board has also to get arrears of Rs. 74 crore from the 16 Rural Water Supply (RWS) schemes and Rs. 73 crore from the surrounding 25 Gram Panchayats. The non-allotment of funds by the Central Government to the GPs in the last two years is said to be the reason for the huge dues.
So far, the Board has served 500 red notices. If the defaulters don’t pay up within 14 days then they are served the Form I notice. Thereafter, movable property is attached and auctioned.
Red notices effective
However, with the notices proving effective, the authorities have not resorted to the latter step. On Monday, three consumers from Banjara Hills responded to the Form I notice and paid dues of 1-2 lakh rupees. Attaching defaulter property is seen as undesirable, given the legal tangles it might precipitate.
“We don’t have the manpower for this,” said Water Board Revenue Director P.S. Suryanarayana.
The disconnection drive, however, is going on at a brisk pace. The Board has severed 464 connections this month, the highest (84) being in the Marredpally area (in Division VII), from where an amount of Rs. 30 crore is due. Seventy disconnections were effected from Red Hills (Division IV), where Rs. 39 crore is due, while 38 disconnections were carried out in Division XVI to recover Rs.10 crore.