Three months after the State government came out with a rule making borewell registration compulsory, the rule is to be strictly implemented in the city. Not many citizens are even aware that they need the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board’s (BWSSB) permission to drill a new borewell.
The government notification, dated December 3, made borewell registration compulsory under the Karnataka Groundwater (Regulation and Control of Development and Management) Act, 2011. Sources in the BWSSB, which is the implementing authority in the city, told The Hindu that the board was planning to conduct door-to-door visits to check for unregistered borewells.
“As per the Act, existing borewell owners have time till March 31 to register. After that owners of unregistered borewells will have to face the music,” the sources said.
“Strict enforcement is essential now to check further exploitation of groundwater. Although summer is yet to set in, several borewells are drying up in the city. On an average, more than 300 borewells dry up every month. Of the 1.72 lakh borewells in the city, 13,000 have been drilled by the BWSSB. Nearly 4,000 of these 13,000 have gone dry,” the sources said.
The Mines and Geology Department’s new borewell registration rule is to check further exploitation of groundwater and also to keep tabs on those using groundwater for commercial purposes.
The BWSSB already has a list of consumers who use borewell water. It has been collecting Rs. 50 as monthly borewell charges from consumers who use borewell water. However, this data does not differentiate between borewell water users and owners.
The new rule makes it mandatory for all existing borewell owners as well as those drilling new borewells or open wells — both for domestic and commercial purposes — to register in the prescribed format by paying a fee. Failure to comply can attract a penalty of up to Rs. 10,000 and/or imprisonment up to three years, according to BWSSB Engineer-in-Chief T. Venkataraju.
The prescribed application for registration is available on www.bwssb.org. The fee for a domestic borewell is Rs. 50 and Rs. 500 each for those drilled under the industrial, commercial or entertainment sectors. The drilling agency will have to pay Rs. 5,000 to register for every borewell.
So far, hardly 100 households from the city have registered. The sources attributed the poor response to lack of awareness.
“This is because although the rule was notified, not much has been done to publicise it,” another official said.
Although top BWSSB officials have been reiterating that citizens are unlikely to suffer from a water crisis during summer this year, the board has already started water rationing in some areas by cutting short the duration of supply and maintaining low pressure in the supply lines.
Apart from the new areas, some core areas in the city have already started feeling the heat.
“Earlier, our supply duration lasted for more than four hours. Now it has reduced to less than two hours. Moreover, there is no pressure,” said V. Satyamurthy, president of Sanjaynagar Residents’ Welfare Association.
“We can soon expect the private water tankers to hike their rates. This is the usual trend every year,” he said.
However, BWSSB officials said the situation would be much better this time as the board was able to draw 200 mld through the Cauvery IV Stage II phase.
“We do not expect any problems till April after which we hope there will be rain. Shortage, if any, may be because of excess consumption during summer and power problems,” an official added.