Reward for reporting illegal taps

The Hyderabad authorities will issue a toll-free number for informers

By Bharat Lal Seth
Published: Saturday 15 January 2011

TO IDENTIFY illegal water connections, the Hyderabad water department has decided to offer reward to informers. The Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) serves 750,000 connections; officials estimate 40,000 are ghost customers illegally tapping the network. The department will introduce the scheme in 2011 and give a reward of Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 to informers, based on the size of the pipeline.

For the past six months, the board has been attempting to regularise as many connections as possible. A regularisation drive was launched on July 15 until November 30 during which the board received 7,200 applications. “This may seem successful but we anticipated 30,000 applications,” said Anand Swaroop, general manager of HMWSSB.

During the drive, the Board did not penalise defaulters; it only asked for, one year’s minimum water charges upfront, apart from the connection charges. “Now that we have given them a chance, the Board is going to undertake a door-to-door survey and penalise illegal connections. We are also considering legal action against water theft,” said Swaroop. The survey will entail physical inspection and scrutiny of connection papers. The exercise can take more than six months. The board will have a person on the job for every 1,000 connections.

Measurement and inspection of the network is the key. It will help identify leakage and illegal connections since most of these connections are hackjobs, said Michael Rouse, former president of the International Water Association, a group of water professionals. “I do not know whether asking neighbours to report on illegal connections works,” he added.

The Board is working out the plan detail. A toll free number will be given where the informant can call. The information will be recorded and identity of the caller would be kept secret.

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