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Updated: November 22, 2011 17:32 IST

Water Board in dire straits

Special Correspondent
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Outstanding dues of Board to APCPDCL stand at a staggering Rs 140 crore

To say that the Water Board is in financial doldrums is to stress the obvious.

The situation is ‘very critical'. It is not able to recover costs in full nor pay its power bills and those of contractors.

The situation is so bad that some time ago the APCPDCL threatened to disconnect power supply if the outstanding dues of Rs. 95 crore are not settled forthwith. Now the figure has jumped to Rs. 140 crore. If this happens the ‘Happening City' will simply go dry.

The crux of the problem is the mismatch between revenue and expenditure.

The Board's monthly operational deficit stands at Rs. 16 crore. Its average expenditure is around Rs. 53 crore and revenue about Rs. 37 crore.

The accumulated revenue deficit is about Rs. 357 crore as on March 31, 2011.

Big drain on board

With the merger of surrounding municipalities the operational area has increased from 337 sq. km to 688 sq. km. And so is the operational deficit. Power charges are the biggest drain on the Board. They have gone up by 412 per cent during the last decade – from Rs. 51 crore per annum in 2002 to Rs. 260 crore now.

The power bill accounts for 45 per cent of the Boards total operational expenditure. The Board is levied under the industrial category at Rs. 3.90 per unit.

The levy of peak rate demand only adds to the burden. “We have written to the government to prevail over the APCPDCL for concessional tariff. The matter is with the regulatory authority”, officials say.

Own making

The Board's misery is its own making. It is just not able to collect its dues from the consumers. The disconnection drive and one time settlement scheme have yielded some results. But still the outstanding dues remain at a whopping Rs. 520 crore. Of this the government departments account for Rs. 172 crore.

While the Board is going after domestic consumers by serving notices and disconnecting supplies, it has not taken any action to recover the dues from government departments. In the last few months nearly 4,000 connections have been removed in the domestic sector but supply is not stopped to a single department.

“We will try to sort out the arrears issue with the individual departments” is all that the new HMWSSB managing director, Adhar Sinha, would say.

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