Hyderabad residents in parched neighbourhoods turning ‘water thieves’?

In hilly areas with low water pressure, many people are turning to suction pumps to draw more water from the HMWSSB main lines.
Hyderabad residents in parched neighbourhoods turning ‘water thieves’?
Hyderabad residents in parched neighbourhoods turning ‘water thieves’?
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What do you do when you open your tap expecting water, but all you get is, at best, a trickle of water, and at worst, water mixed with sewerage? Faced with extreme water shortage, residents in several neighbourhoods in Hyderabad are allegedly turning into ‘water thieves’. Their modus operandi: To set up mini suction pumps, connected to Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) main lines, to pull in whatever water is available. And this means those who live downstream, or don’t have suction pumps, are left with even lesser water.

Take West Anandbagh for instance. The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) officials say that the locality gets water only once in three days. But they also admit that this is neither sufficient – nor is all of it actually reaching the people. The shortage has adversely impacted the quality of life of over 600 families residing in the locality.

“Towards the latter part of June for ten days there was no water supply,” says Suresh Kumar, general secretary, West Anandbagh Resident Welfare Association.

“The corporation has turned a blind eye to the problem. Water is supplied once in 4-10 days for half an hour, and that too with low pressure and with irregular timings,” he adds.

Suresh then alleges, “A few residents use motors, which is going unchecked by the department even though several complaints have been lodged.”

The mini water pumps cost as much as Rs 2,000, and are used discreetly. “Most people have one at their home,” says Vani S, a resident who often does not get water at her first-floor apartment.

“When the water comes, we can hear the pump in our neighbours’ homes. They have cut the main water supply pipe and have attached the water pump. When confronted they say it’s legal,” she claims.

The HMWSSB, however, says the practice is completely illegal. “Strict action will be taken against those indulging the practice,” says Shreevani, General Manager, HMWSSB, Gopal Nagar area. The official requested the public to reach out to the department to report such offences.

But the practice of using mini pumps to extract water is not just endemic to West Anandbagh, residents of areas like Subash Nagar, Moula Ali etc also resort to the practice.

“Ours is a hilly area and the water supply has very low pressure. We use the pumps to pull water so that we get more quantity for the limited time the department releases the water,” says M Ahmed, an autorickshaw driver.

“This is an issue we have been facing for several years. We have raised complaints with the department several times, but as we are not economically well off, the officials don’t care much about this area,” says 32-year-old Vimala K, a homemaker in Subash Nagar.

“The water comes to this area mostly at noon for maybe an hour maximum, and we store as much as possible in water cans but my family has six members, most times the water is not enough,” she adds.

M Shabuddin, HMWSSB area in-charge for Subash Nagar says, “There is not much that we can do as the terrain is not plain. The department has undertaken a water pipeline project to try and resolve the water crisis here but that could take time.”

With little or no water residents then have to resort to buying water from water takers that cost anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 1000 for a tanker depending on quantity. “To get that water we have to give our electricity bill, house tax bill and then it may take another 3 to 5 days for that water tanker to arrive. The only way to survive is by buying canned water,” Vani adds.

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