Cash and saris could well be passé. With water being the most precious commodity this summer, thanks to plummeting storage in the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) and Kabini dams from where water is pumped to the city, our politicians know they have hit pay dirt.
Although there’s nothing new in elected representatives arranging free water supply (with their images, the party symbol and an appeal seeking votes plastered on the tankers, of course), this time sitting MLAs and candidates from across political parties are mainly concentrating on the new pockets of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits. Apart from supplying water in tankers sporting party posters, a new gimmick adopted by the candidates is promising voters a Cauvery water connection for free.
Not keen to pay
As residents of most of the new areas that were under the erstwhile city municipal councils (CMCs) continue to get free borewell supply, not many are keen on getting a Cauvery water connection as they not only have to pay for the meter installation but also the water bills. Of the targeted 2.2 lakh new consumers, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has, since November (when the Cauvery IV Stage Phase II was commissioned), got only 62,000 new consumers.
A few candidates, including some sitting MLAs, especially in east and north Bangalore, are said to be promising voters in their constituencies with Cauvery water connections if they win. Coincidentally, the number of people taking BWSSB connections has hit the lowest figure in the last 15 days.
“An average of 8,000 people have been taking metered connections every month since October. But this month, from April 1 till date, only 2,300 people have taken connections. We are also surprised,” said a top BWSSB official.
Sources said that people appear to be taking the candidates’ promise seriously. “We have to pay Rs. 10,100 for a metered connection. This includes Rs. 8,000 Greater Bangalore Water and Sanitation Project (GBWASP) charges. We will wait and see if these politicians will keep their promise,” said Allauddin Basha, a resident of Islampur near HAL 2 stage.
Similarly, Anjamani, a resident of Muniswamy Gowda Layout in Byatarayanapura, said that she was happy that there would soon be an end to her ordeal of fetching water from a borewell located at a distance. “Pipe hakidare; meter election addamele haktare ante (They have laid the pipelines and the meter will be installed after the elections),” said Ms. Anjamani, who is a domestic help.
A worker affiliated to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party confessed that this was the safest way of wooing voters. “As we are actually not paying anything to the voter, there are no chances of attracting the Election Commission’s wrath for violating the code of conduct,” he added cheerfully.
Supply peters out
Meanwhile, residents of areas such as G.M. Palya and Jeevan Bima Nagar were pleasantly surprised over sudden bountiful supply of water in the first week of April. Clearly it was too good to last and it mysteriously went back to its usual erratic mode soon after the model code of conduct came into force.
BWSSB officials said that they had ensured uninterrupted supply of water for Ugadi festival. “This has nothing to do with the elections,” one said.