BWSSB ready to file criminal cases over water theft

Legal notices will be issued to defaulters in the coming days

BWSSB ready to file criminal cases over water theft

 Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) will start filing criminal complaints against those having illegal and unauthorised water and sanitary connections.

The Board also wants to start issuing legal notices to those who have failed to regularise their connections and book them under Section 108 of the BWSSB Act, 1964, which is about the mode of recovery of dues.

The Board had set December 31, 2014 as the deadline for regularising the water connections. In the last one month, the Board has managed to regularise over 25,000 connections by imposing penalty on the offenders. Now, the Board is planning to go a step further and to start filing criminal complaints against those offenders who have failed to regularise the connections within the deadline.

The Board is planning to appoint an advocate at sub-division level in order to start issuing legal notices to the offenders, but legal procedure to settle complaints could be an expensive affair for BWSSB.  According to Board's engineer-in-chief T Venkataraju, there could be more than one lakh unauthorised water connections in the City which would mean that BWSSB will have to deal with over one lakh cases in the court.

“Each case will cost at least Rs 4,000 to the Board to settle the matter in the court, which in turn will cost at least Rs 40 crore to the Board. The process is an expensive affair for BWSSB, because for recovering the dues from an unauthorised consumer, the Board may have to shell out more than the actual amount,” added Venkataraju.

However, BWSSB chairman Anjum Pervez said that the Board was working on the strategy to go about filing the cases. “Only select cases where the consumer has failed to regularise the connections despite repeated requests may be booked.  We will try our best to convince the public to regularise by processing their applications quickly, but sending legal notices is not ruled out,” added the chairman.

Constraints

Officials have been facing several constraints during the inspection of unauthorised connections, according to a Board official. In one of the inspection drives, when the officials found that a popular hotel in the City was drawing water illegally for the past many years, a hefty fine was imposed.

But, the inspection backfired when questions were raised about why the Board failed to inspect for so many years and what the area assistant engineers were doing all these days. The official also said that political interference hampered the recovery process affecting the Board's revenue.

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