More than 2,000 files are awaiting clearance under the VDS

The Model Code of Conduct has put the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) in a quandary, as more than 2,000 files are awaiting clearance under the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) launched in February.

Clarification from EC awaited

The scheme has been put on hold as of now, as HMWSSB officials are waiting for a clarification on the matter from the Election Commission (EC). The board had sought permission to continue with the VDS and One Time Settlement (OTS) schemes, the two programmes initiated last month and scheduled to be in effect till March 31.

A senior HMWSSB official said the EC may not exempt the VDS and OTS schemes from the code of conduct.

The water board had received about 1,000 applications from people for regularisation of illegal connections till the first week of March and another 1,000 since then. The silver lining was that half of those numbers came from slums and the old city. Also, the OTS scheme had brought both individual customers and government bodies with huge bills to settle their dues.

For example, the Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB), which still owes about Rs.20 crore to the water board, had paid Rs.4 crore first and Rs.2 crore later.

“Others having issues with billing and other problems have also approached us to clear off their pending bills,” said an official, declining to be identified. Under the OTS, customers with pending bills can pay off their dues without the 18 per cent interest levied for late payments, while VDS allows regularisation of illegal connections.

Both the schemes are available only till March 31, after which water supply will be disconnected and action taken against defaulters.

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