Official-consumer nexus costs BWSSB Rs 30 crore a month

Official-consumer nexus costs BWSSB Rs 30 crore a month

An unholy nexus between civic officials and private entities, especially bulk water consumers, is costing the Board revenues of  Rs 30 crore a month.

Called commercial losses, these are in addition to the Rs 60-crore physical losses it suffers every month. The Board can add substantially to its present revenues of Rs 90 crore a month if it plugs these leaks.

While it has undertaken a project to tackle physical losses (30 percent) in three divisions at a cost of Rs 750 crore and has proposed to undertake work on three more divisions at an estimated cost of 750 crore, it has done little to plug commercial losses (15 per cent). Commercial losses, which are due to “managerial issues, can be tackled with effective management”, unlike physical losses, which require huge investments and involve replacing pipes.

Of the 1,310 million litres per day (MLD) of Cauvery water which is supplied to the City from a distance of over 100 km, about 47 per cent (615 MLD) is Unaccounted of Water (UFW). This consists of physical losses, commercial losses (water delivered but not billed) and unbilled authorised connections.

A senior BWSSB official, who requested anonymity, said lower rung officers were hand-in-glove with water meter readers as well as bulk consumers, thus encouraging meter tampering and bypassing water meters in exchange for money.

This amounted to a huge loss to the Board, he said, and cited examples of two recent cases of water theft in Ramamurthynagar and Jayanagar, which included water meter tampering and bypassing water meters. Former BWSSB chief engineer M N Thippeswamy said commercial losses amount to Rs 1.20 crore a day, going by the charges of Rs 45 per cubic metre of water.

“With effective management and intensive drives, the Board can solve this problem in less than two years. But, it should be done on a war-footing,” he said.

To prevent such thefts, Thippeswamy favoured checks by private squads instead of the Board’s officers.

Vigilance committee
BWSSB chairman T M Vijay Bhaskar promised to form a vigilance committee, which would be directly accountable to the chairman. The committee would be formed to hold surprise raids to detect illegal activities.

The chairman admitted that there was rampant water tampering, reversing (push back the reading in the meter) and bypassing meters. Of the 2 lakh illegal water connections which were mainly in the former City Municipal Councils (CMC), 80,000 were weeded out.
DH News Service

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