K.V.S. Madhav

Pilot study in three maintenance divisions

Meter installation and maintenance and billing to be outsourced30 per cent of the water connections are illegal

HYDERABAD: Faced with long pending bills, un-metered connections and a staff unable to make people cough up their arrears, the Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board has decided to privatise its bill collection process. The plan is being implemented on a pilot basis in three of its maintenance divisions -- Adikmet, Asmangadh and Jubilee Hills.

Four companies had come forward for the same and three had qualified in the technical bids. The cost factor and the tenders would be finalised here on Friday.

"There is no active proposal to give away spot billing to private operators. We are only outsourcing the meter installation, meter maintenance and billing processes," HMWSSB managing director K.S. Jawahar Reddy said. While earlier the job of the water meter companies ended with the installation of the meters, it would now involve the maintenance and billing part too.

In touch with consumers

"This means the companies ought to be in contact with the consumers on a regular basis. While we have good revenue flowing in because of the flat rates in vogue for the water used, the new move would show us accurately the volume of water consumed and supplied. And once meters are in place all over, the revenue flow will be much higher," he maintained.

Further, billing by meter was crucial in the long run for the proposed round-the-clock supplies. Over the past one year, the HMWSSB initiated several moves to penalise users without water meters in the twin cities and bring them under its ambit, but to no avail.

According to official estimates, there are a staggering 1.60 lakh connections without legal water meters out of the 4.8 lakh connections. The board had even issued notices to all these customers but only a mere 40,000-odd complied with the orders. The number of individual households that owe the Board less than Rs. 5,000 runs to 70,000!