Telangana Polls: No Water, No Vote Say Residents of ‘Happy Homes’

I wish to bring to light the ordeal of about 1,800 lower and middle class cosmopolitan voters at Happy Homes Tower, an 18-year-old gated community of nine blocks situated along the PVNR Expressway in Rajendranagar Assembly constituency.

The residents have collated a representation of demands on behalf of all the registered voters before all main contesting parties – TRS, Congress, TDP, AIMIM, BJP, TJS etc. Given the general lax on the government’s part on fulfilling our needs, the following has become a matter of great concern for us and now a voting issue.

We have been facing severe water crunch for our day to day needs since the last six years. The reason is the depletion of groundwater levels in the existing borewells. Further, the cause for depletion of water are several building construction projects going on in the adjoining colonies of our blocks. Since 2016, the borewells have dried up as well, forcing us to buy water from tankers and other private players.

Dried borewell at the Happy Homes complex area. 

When the complex was built in 2000, there was no mainline for water in the area. The work was only undertaken in 2004. The complex had been provided with a public tap but when the municipality was merged with Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, it was withdrawn. A new connection, we were told, would come at a hefty cost of Rs 15 lakhs per block.

The resident voters have since been demanding a permanent supply of water by tankers as per the requirement of each block for our day-to-day needs at a reasonable and affordable rate per tanker through the Hyderabad Metro Water Board (HMWSSB).

Happy Homes towers.
Happy Homes complex. 

There are similar problems with drinking water, for which we decided to approach the government. The residents in the year 2016 wrote to the hon'ble chief minister of Telangana, and other concerned officials to provide a metered connection for drinking water to each block. We had earnestly requested to waive all the levies, and the HMWSSB to take up rainwater harvesting, which the board carries free of cost if an open area is available in the residential complex or locality. Neither the corporator, nor the elected government of the day came to our rescue.

After reading our representation, the hon'ble minister for municipal administration promptly responded by stating “Thanks for writing in to us. Have copied in our MD of HMWS to look into the matter at the earliest.. Regards”.

After much ado, in the month of March 2017 the general manager (Rajendranagar) of Hyderabad Metro Water Supply took details of the number of flats constructed in each block and plot area of the 9 blocks. He had undertaken a necessary survey and submitted his Final Feasibility Report to HO Water Board in June 2017, recommending a BULK category 100mm size connection of 2,14,500 ltrs per day at an approximate cost of Rs 7 lakhs ie ‘improvement charges’ per apartment complex.

After waiting for nearly eight months, in January 2018, we were shocked to receive a final intimation for payment to approve the bulk connection that required all residents to pay a total of Rs 1.66 crores within 60 days.

Many charges were levied from the accumulated account mentioned at the time of the survey. This included the water supply connection charges, costs incurred for sewerage connection, and charges for augmenting source, infrastructure development charges and so on. All charges levied were not affordable by the residents belonging to lower, and middle-income backgrounds.

Thereon began a continuous back and forth between the residents and the Telangana government, seeking relaxation of payments to avail the drinking water connection with the board.

The flat owners were not satisfied with the board’s clarification on the charges levied and felt they were unaffordable. We yet again wrote to the Telangana government to consider our request for relaxation of charges.

Since each block has a different number of constructed flats (Tower 1 – 100, Tower 2 – 80, Tower 3, 4 & 5 – 60, Tower 6 – 50, Palace A – 105, Palace B – 95 & Palace C – 100) we have requested for provision of a sub-metered drinking water connection from the main bulk supply meter point to each block so that a separate, monthly consumption bill can be issued.

We also reached out to our elected representatives in August 2018 – the MP, the MLA and the corporator – to forward our request to the minister of the Municipal Administration & Urban Development Department (MAUD). A dissolution of Assembly made matters worse and we must wait for the newly elected government to take charge.

And now the issue has become just another voters’ demand that has been placed before all the contestants of all the parties.

Occupancy Certificate Issues

The flat owners were forced to apply for the regularisation of the construction under Building Penalisation Scheme of 2008. Several have paid in full and most of them paid part payment towards the scheme. Yet the GHMC Rajendranagar Circle is mum on the status of these applications.

(An occupancy certificate is issued on the regularisation of illegal units. In the absence of this certificate, local bodies do not issue water connections).

Occupancy Certificate is must for every block without which one must pay 3 times more per kilolitre of drinking water.

After the formation of Telangana state, a new Building Regularisation Scheme was introduced in 2015. The flat owners sought clarification on pending 2008 BPS applications, but it was totally ignored by the GHMC again.

The flat owners of an 18-year-old residential complex had lodged a protest complaint 18 months back to the Commissioner of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation in early 2017 related to their 9 blocks Property Tax, Unauthorised Construction Penalty and Occupancy Certificate issues.

But Even after repeated pursuance by the flat owners, nothing has come of this issue.

All the voters seek an assurance, especially from the contesting candidates of all the political parties, to reach a speedy resolution of all the pending issues concerning their locality after the election results.

We need our essential amenities – and we will exercise our right to vote in a way they are fulfilled.

(The Quint reached out the corporator for their version of the story. According to him, the water connection will be provided after “outstanding payment” is made, or in terms of a settlement that involves payment through installments or otherwise by the residents of Happy Homes Tower.

The Quint has spoken to another resident who has claimed that no such settlement has been arrived at – their demands for drinking and tap water are hence caught in an impasse between the three stakeholders).

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