LAHORE: The Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) has directed its 22 sub divisions to detect illegal connections and try to identify the network reportedly charging bills on some of them.
An official at the Wasa headquarters told The Express Tribune that the Wasa deputy managing director (finance and revenue), Chaudary Abdul Hameed, had received information about a group of Wasa officials allegedly involved in laying down lines and providing water connections in violation of the agency’s rules and regulations. The group, he said, was understood to have been active in the newly settled colonies including Bhagatpura, China Scheme and Shahdara Town in Ravi Town.
The official said that the DMD had learnt that the group had setup an office and was collecting bills. He said that in most cases the consumers were not aware of the irregularities and were paying the bills believing that they had legal connections. The Wasa managing director, Javed Iqbal, said that the drive against unauthorised connections was among his top priorities.
He admitted that the revenue department needed an overhaul and said that the agency would take action against corrupt officials.
The Express Tribune learnt that the DMD (F&R) has constituted a committee comprising deputy director (revenue) and an XEN to investigate connections in Ravi Town.
He added that the exercise would be undertaken in other towns as well. About 10 to 15 per cent of all water connections in the city are believed to be unauthorised, a senior revenue official in Wasa said.
He said that there were around 560,000 legal water connections and Wasa collected about Rs10 million in water bills from them.
He said that by integrating illegal connections into the Wasa network, the agency could add some much needed funds to its revenue stream. He said that about 15,000 illegal connections were detected across the city by surveys companies hired by Wasa earlier this year. The operation, he said, could not be continued as the companies pulled out of the project owing to non-payment of their dues.
The Wasa had hired PEARL to conduct surveys in Nishter Town, the ASSETS in Data Gunj Buksh and Iqbal Town and the ECC and the CAP in Ravi Town, Aziz Bhatti Town and Shalimar Town. Under the agreement, the companies were to get Rs270 to Rs290 for every unauthorised connection they detected.
A Wasa spokesperson, Imtiaz Ahmed, said that in 2001 in its drive against illegal connections the agency had recovered Rs130 million from about 45,000 defaulters.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2010.