By Firdous Hassan
Srinagar, June 27: The state government recovered only 30 per cent of the drinking water tariff from the consumers across Kashmir last year, facing a deficit of Rs 59 core.
As per an official from Public Health Engineering Department (PHE), in Srinagar, where 1,46,080 households are registered, the department recovered only Rs 10 crore against Rs 29 crore.
“We suffered a loss of Rs 19 crore in the city alone, where, as per our calculations, we have about 60,000 unregistered connections,” he said.
In sub-urban and rural Kashmir, the department has collected Rs 14 crore against Rs 54 crore.
“In total, the people owe us Rs 59 crore. Collection of tariff is a difficult task for the department, especially in rural Kashmir, where the consumers often thrash our employees,” the official said.
The official said a large sum was owed by the “chronic defaulters”.
“Apart from the illegal connections, people deliberately don’t pay the annual tariff,” he said.
Sources said majority of the government departments also don’t pay to the PHE department for the drinking water supplied to them.
“The departments including hospitals and schools never pay. We continuously send notices to the offices but to no avail,” a source said.
The government had set March 2018 as the deadline for regularising the illegal connections and collection of fees.
An officer on special duty at the PHE Department, Bashir Ahmad said they would intensify the process for recovering the tariff from defaulters.
“Our men visit every household to collect the fee. But strict action will be taken against those who haven’t paid for many years. Still, we will go door to door to register the consumers and then hold public awareness campaigns for payment of tariff,” he said.