Digging borewells has become a big headache for the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) as councillors and MLAs differ on the sites.

But the water-starved public has no problem as long as borewells bring them the much-needed relief.

Political rivalry

Official sources in the BWSSB told The Hindu in several areas the locations identified by the area councillors for borewells did not go down well with the area MLAs. This was particularly the case where the MLAs and councillors represent rival political parties. One such instance is in Basavanapura (Ward 53) represented by Congress Councillor K. Poornima Srinivas. She attributes K.R. Puram MLA Nandish Reddy's meddling for BWSSB officials abruptly stopping work at Chickbasavanapura in her ward.

“My ward has only 32 borewells. With no Cauvery water supply, residents in most areas are suffering. I had suggested that a borewell be drilled in Chickbasavanapura as it is one of the worst affected areas. But after drilling 25 feet, they stopped work citing technical problems. I know for sure that it is because of the MLA,” Ms. Srinivas told The Hindu.

Suggestions ignored

Councillor Kavitha Babu Raj, who represents Singasandra (Ward 191), also face such problems. “The officials refused to heed my suggestions to drill three borewells in some of worst affected localities as (Bommanahalli) MLA Satish Reddy did not approve them. Although they reluctantly agreed after I protested, they refused to start work till Mr. Reddy came for the inauguration,” she said.

M. Nagaraj, Leader of the Opposition Congress in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council, described such one-upmanship on the part of the MLAs as unfair.

“They represent the entire constituency. They cannot use the officials to please their vote banks. I will raise this issue in the Council and launch an agitation if the MLAs do not mend their ways,” he said.

Conflicting demands

Corroborating such allegations, a top BWSSB official said the drive had become a “big headache” for the board. “As it is we are being criticised for depleting the water table. Now we are finding it difficult to (oblige) the councillors and the MLAs. If the MLA wants a borewell in one place, the councillor wants it elsewhere,” the official said.

BWSSB Chairman P.B. Ramamurthy, who has been reiterating that borewells are not a permanent solution to the water problem, said the board would not give in to such pressures.

“We are drilling borewells after consulting geologists. We have adopted a turnkey concept while choosing the agency to drill borewells. The agency has to conduct a survey with a geologist's technical assistance before drilling. No-water-no-money is our concept,” he said.

However, welcoming the borewell drilling, K.R. Puram resident A.V. Shama Rao said at least now they did not have to spend on buying water.

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