GO 327 authorises Deputy General Managers of Water Board to attach movable and immovable properties of defaulters and sell them to recover dues
The Water Board, now armed with powers to attach movable and immobile properties, will first zero in on consumers owing more than Rs. 75,000 to it.
There are 800 big defaulters who owe Rs. 70 crore in bills. These are bulk consumers whose connections have been severed for non-payment. “We will target them first,” said J. Syamala Rao, Managing Director, HMWSSB.
The mood in the cash-strapped Water Board is upbeat after the government issued two GOs arming it with powers to recover dues. The GO 326 has delegated Tahsildar’s powers to the Board’s General Managers (Engineering) under the A.P. Rent and Revenue Sales Act, 1839 for recovery of dues.
The GO 327 also authorises Deputy General Managers to attach movable and immovable properties of defaulters and sell them to recover dues. There are nearly 1,800 consumers owing than Rs. 75,000 to the Board, with the total dues coming to Rs. 135 crore.
Thereafter, those owing up to Rs. 50,000 will be targeted. The Board has outstanding dues of nearly Rs. 800 crore. Of this, government departments owe Rs. 160 crore, while there is a dispute over payment of Rs. 100 crore. Nearly Rs. 150 crore is caught in BIFR-referred cases.
“We could only disconnect supply till now, but now we have powers to recover the arrears if necessary through attachment of property,” Mr. Rao added.
Revenue Recovery Act
The Board has decided to invoke the Revenue Recovery Act to realise its arrears. It has already served 300 ‘red notices’ to chronic defaulters, and if they fail to respond, they would be proceeded against under RRA. The matter has been referred to the Chief Commissioner of Land Administration (CCLA), and the Board is awaiting the government’s nod to go ahead.
However, till then it plans to take the help of Collectors of Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts to recover the dues under RRA. The Board has taken recourse to this stern measure in view of its mounting dues. However, even before the Act is imposed in its totality the red notices are proving effective in bringing in revenue.
For the first time in its history, the Board is able to cross the barrier of 4 lakh paid CANS (Consumer Account Numbers). In March, a record 4.04 lakh consumers, out of 8 lakh, paid their bills, pushing the Board’s monthly revenue to Rs. 53 crore. The last highest number of consumers who paid bills in a month is 3.82 lakh. The Board aims at netting an average monthly revenue of Rs. 60 crore by raising the number of paid CANS per month to 4.3 lakh.
“Achieving this target will be easy with the recruitment of 90 new managers soon. They have been selected through APPSC,” said Syamala Rao.
The Board has identified 1,632 consumers who owe more than Rs. 1 lakh in arrears. The Board is in the process of compiling a list of 20 such defaulters in each division for forwarding to the District Collectors for recovery of dues under RRA.
Worrying power bill
This apart, the Board is now more worried about its rising power bill. With the latest hike in power tariff, the Board’s power bill is expected to jump from Rs. 34 crore to Rs. 48 crore a month. This figure may go up further when the Board starts pumping water in the days to come as the falling water level in reservoirs makes drawal by gravity impossible. When the power tariff was last revised on December 1, 2011, the Board was paying Rs. 24 crore per month.
Interestingly, the Board itself owes a whopping Rs. 180 crore towards power bill arrears. But right now, it is able to pay only the current month bills. All these issues are proposed to be discussed in the next Board meeting, and they will also be taken up with the Municipal Administration Minister, it is said.