Project implementation under phase I with funds from JICA

Residents of 96 slums in Bangalore will soon have access to regular drinking water and a systematic underground drainage system.

Scaling up its AusAID Master Plan Project that was implemented between 2000 and 2002, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has now roped in four non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to mobilise community support for connecting the city's 362 slums with drinking water and sanitary lines.

The AusAID project had covered three slums of Cement Huts, Sudhamanagar and Chandranagar.

Being taken up as a slum development component under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-funded Cauvery II Stage IV Phase Project, this effort is to ensure that slum dwellers are not deprived of piped water and sanitation.

BWSSB Engineer-in-Chief T. Venkataraju told The Hindu here on Sunday that inadequate services to the urban poor were posing a major challenge to the board in terms of unauthorised connections and related problems.

The NGOs were entrusted with the task of convincing the slum dwellers and mobilising their support for metered connections. The NGOs have completed conducting socio-economic and technical surveys in 96 slums under the first phase, he said.

“They are likely to submit a preliminary report in a day or two after which we will finalise and start the process of implementing the project in these 96 slums. While the house connections, including pipelines, accessories and water meters, will be provided free, the slum dwellers will have to pay for the quantity of water they use after the supply starts,” Mr. Venkataraju said.

He said that based on the NGOs report, the water board could even consider further subsidising water tariff for these communities. The supply will start soon after the completion of the Cauvery II Stage IV Phase Project, he said.

The four NGOs, Mythri Sarva Seva Samithi, Indian Community Development Service Society, New Entity for Social Action and Mahatma Gandhi Trust, were chosen from among 120 organisations through a tendering process, he said.

Survey

Chief Engineer (Cauvery) Narayan said that the job of the NGOs was to conduct a door-to-door survey to find out the socio-economic status of the family. “The survey is also to find out whether the family had access to safe drinking water, how much money they spent on water and whether they were ready to get metered connections installed at their doorstep,” he explained.

Quoting a recent study by CIVIC in 23 city slums, S. Harish Babu of Mythri Sarva Seva Samithi said that the study had revealed that collecting water was a major problem for slum dwellers. “Hence, individual connections will help,” he said.

Clarifying that the NGOs were not working for enhancing the water board's revenue by propagating metered connections, Mr. Babu said: “Our job is to explain to the residents the ground reality. We are even trying to persuade the board to fix a highly subsidised tariff slab for slum connections,” he added.