The Non-Revenue Water Management (NRWM) unit - central region, that completes its first anniversary, has unearthed over 160 cases of water theft and realised over Rs.40 lakh in revenue.

Realising over Rs.11 lakh from a single defaulter came as an anniversary gift to the unit here as the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) won a three-year-old legal battle.

A major vehicle dealer on the NH Bypass Road with an unauthorised connection was slapped a fine of Rs.30,000 along with water utilisation charges of Rs.6.8 lakh in 2010, when the anti-theft squad functioning at the time unearthed the theft. The vehicle dealer was found using motor pumps to draw water from a KWA domestic line that was disconnected earlier. However, refusing to pay the bill and the fine invited penalty and the vehicle dealer moved the court. The magistrate court gave a verdict in favour of the KWA, leading the consumer to move High Court. The High Court, which ruled in favour of the KWA, however, scaled down the penalty from Rs.12.40 lakh to Rs.11.44 lakh.

But, the verdict was five months old and the order was yet to be complied with. “We moved revenue recovery procedures after issuing a notice and that brought the defaulters to pay up the amount”, said K. M. Siddque, who was in-charge of the anti-theft squad then and now heads the NRWM unit.

Most thefts are unauthorised tappings, using domestic lines for construction purposes and use of motor to draw water. A case where 23 pipes were found drawing water from a leaking valve in Mulavukkad continues to be on though the KWA officials said the leakage has reduced.

There were a couple of other cases where revenue was yet to be recovered, said Mr. Siddique.

The anti-theft squad has been functioning since 2008 in the region and this team formed the NRWM unit set up last year.

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