Fee for cutting roads for new water connections rarely paid

The city Corporation seems to be losing out on a substantial revenue it should get as fee for sanctioning tar-cutting for new water connections. Councillors and officials said here that the requests for cutting Corporation roads rarely reached the office, thus robbing the civic body of a steady source of revenue.

A few months ago, the council had passed a decision by which councillors were barred from accepting tar-cutting requests. All such requests had to be placed at the desk of the Corporation Secretary. But the directive has not been followed.

“Permissions for connections are now being given directly by the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) officials. They have to send it through the Corporation, if the connection cuts through a Corporation road and to the PWD, if it is a PWD road. Once the request reaches the Secretary, officials from the engineering wing will inspect the area to be cut and decide the amount to be remitted,” says V.S. Padmakumar, Chairman of the Corporation’s Works Standing Committee.

The current rate for cutting 1 square metre of tarred or concrete road is Rs.1,420. Mr. Padmakumar said the total annual loss for the Corporation on this count was more than Rs.1 crore.

“For apartment complexes, pipes of bigger diameters are used, which means wider cuts. The payment in such cases is substantial. Barring un-tarred and badly damaged roads, all others have to pay this fee to get water connection. Even when maintenance work is being done on old pipes, the fee has to be paid if cutting of the road is involved,” he said.

The audit report for the year 2011-12, which was released a few weeks ago, had a short note on this particular ‘loss’. Valiyathura councillor Tony Oliver said there was a loophole for licensed plumbers and officials indulging in corruption in granting this permission.

M. Krishnakumar, Superintending Engineer (Thiruvananthapuram) of KWA, told The Hindu that new connections could not be granted without the permission of the Corporation.

“The amount has to be remitted. There is no possibility of a consumer getting water connection otherwise,” he said. Mr. Padmakumar said the Corporation would convene a meeting with KWA officials and ask them to insist on the Secretary’s letter for all connections.