Never has drinking water been such an important part of political manifestos. With the demand going up exponentially every summer, the election season has seen this basic necessity pitch-forked into the top slot in the list of promises.
Be it an election rally or appeal for votes, irrespective of the party, candidates’ preamble is water scarcity, and conclusion: promise of ensuring regular supply.
Cashing in on the shortage, some candidates and sitting MLAs are distributing the precious liquid in really parched areas after ensuring the tankers display their party symbol and an appeal for votes. A few are even using metered connections for Cauvery water as bait.
Spiralling population and failure of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to augment supply has led to a perpetual water crisis, made worse by lack of coordination among various civic service providers.
The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and the BWSSB have permitted high rises in the newly added areas without giving a thought to water supply. This haphazard growth has also depleted groundwater due to indiscriminate drilling of borewells.
Officials themselves admit that at least 32 per cent of the total 1,025 million litres per day (mld) goes waste because of pipe and joint leaks, corroded house service connections, leakages in ground-level reservoirs and malfunctioning meters. While at least 250 mld (that can cater to two lakh households) can be conserved if this wastage is reduced, nothing has been done to plug it.
Worse this year
Despite the commissioning of the Cauvery IV Stage 2nd Phase that has enabled the BWSSB to draw an additional 500 mld, the scarcity is worse this year. Officials said the drastic fall in water-level at Shiva Balancing Reservoir (SBR), from where water is drawn to the city, and the release of 2.4 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu following the Supreme Court’s directions, has made matters worse.
The city’s supply of 900 mld, together from Thorekadanahalli and Thippagondanahalli (T.G. Halli), was reduced to 870 mld from November last year when pumping from the T.G. Halli reservoir was stopped completely after it dried up. The commissioning of Cauvery IV Stage 2nd Phase around the same time came as a breather. Although this project was planned to augment the city’s supply by 500 mld, the BWSSB has been drawing only 125 mld now. This takes the total daily supply to 1,025 mld.
According to BWSSB Engineer-in-Chief T. Venkataraju, the potable water network of 7,500 km carries this 1,025 mld to 7.22 lakh households, though improper distribution is a bane.
Now that the limit of water that can be drawn from the Cauvery has already been reached, the BWSSB is looking at alternatives to augment supply.