When will Cauvery IV stage be ready, ask councillors; row over absence of BWSSB officials at meet

The severe shortage of water across the city led to a heated debate at the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council’s monthly meeting here on Wednesday.

Cutting across party lines, councillors demanded to know when the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board’s (BWSSB) ambitious Cauvery 4th Stage, 2nd Phase would be commissioned since the deadline had been extended several times. However, with no BWSSB official present at the meeting, the councillors demanded a special meeting with Minister S. Suresh Kumar and chairperson Gaurav Gupta be held soon.

Raising the issue, Opposition Leader M.K. Gunashekar said that citizens, who were parched due to irregular water supply, were tired of repeated assurances by elected representatives that the situation would improve soon. He said that many borewells that had been drilled across the city had gone defunct. There was confusion with regard to which agency is supposed to take up repairs — the BBMP or the BWSSB.

He added that a former Commissioner had directed officials to assign the work of drilling borewells to Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Ltd. (formerly known as Karnataka Land Army). However, the BBMP had not released funds for the same.

Siddapura councillor M. Udayshankar said that community/ public taps earlier used to be another source of water. “However, the community taps have been disconnected and the citizens are left high and dry.”

Meanwhile, several councillors objected to the absence of BWSSB officials in the meeting. “The meeting notice is sent to their office. They are insulting the citizens by not attending the council meetings,” said B.S. Sathyanarayana, Basavanagudi councillor. Kacharakanahalli councillor Padmanabha Reddy suggested that the council recommend suspension of BWSSB officials who failed to attend the meeting.

Many councillors suggested that BWSSB and BBMP be merged, on the lines of Brihan Mumbai Mahanagar Palike that handles water and power supply. When no solution was in sight, Congress councillors staged a walk out, while the Janata Dal (Secular) councillors threatened to stage a dharna in the well.

Commissioner M.K. Shankarlinge Gowda admitted that drinking water supply did not come under BBMP’s jurisdiction. He said he would write to Mr. Gupta and Mr. Kumar so that a special meeting could be convened to discuss water problems.

In 2010-11, the BBMP had drilled nearly 1,375 borewells, of which pipeline had been provided to 798, pumps to 973 and electricity connection to 977. He said that Rs. 25 lakh had been given to old wards and Rs. 50 lakh to new wards for the supply of water through tankers. “Powers have been delegated to the zonal officers, who can use their discretion and spend the funds to ensure water is supplied through tankers.” In 2011-12, the BBMP spent Rs. 77 crore on water supply. The BBMP had also deposited funds with BWSSB for the procurement of tankers and jetting machines, he added.