Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has revived its ₹650 crore Unaccounted for Water (UFW) project, an ambitious initiative aimed at reducing water loss at the distribution end of the chain.
Officials have called for fresh tenders to expand this project, which was nearly shelved last year owing to slow pace of work. The move comes in the wake of much debate around the city’s water sustainability, with experts raising red flags.
- South zone: 53 sq. km (completed)
- West zone: 54 sq. km (completed)
- Central zone: 26 sq. km (yet to be completed)
- Area under new tender: 21.89 sq. km in the four subdivisions of Yelahanka, Sahakarnagar, Shivajinagar and Indiranagar
According to BWSSB Engineer-in-Chief Kemparamaiah, they have called for tenders under the project for works to be taken up in four subdivisions — Yelahanka, Sahakarnagar, Shivajinagar and Indiranagar, covering 21.89 sq. km. Work in the central zone, spread across 26 sq. km, is likely to be completed in three months.
The focus now will be to keep a check on unauthorised connections, apart from ensuring that there are no leakages in the pipeline. “We have received several complaints about unauthorised connections in these localities,” said Mr. Kemparamaiah.
The project was initiated in 2013 after it was found that 51% of water being supplied to the city was unaccounted for — either because of leakage or pilferage. The aim of the project was to bring down water loss to 16%, but its efficacy was limited owing to slow pace of work. This time, though, officials are more optimistic, and claim that they have managed to bring down loss to 39% across the city.
As for the work taken up earlier, in the south division, the BWSSB covered an area of 53 sq. km, and officials claimed that the water loss here had reduced to 27% from 51% in 2013 when they started the work. In the west division, work covering an area of 54 sq. km was completed and water loss had come down to 31% from 53% earlier, officials said.
In the newer areas, there is a rampant issue of several unauthorised water connections, said the former chairman of the BWSSB B.N. Thayagaraja. He also observed that in older areas several meters were not functioning and hence it was difficult to accurately gauge the use in such households. These meters have to be replaced, he said.
‘BWSSB must hold local engineers responsible’
Activist Kshitij Urs, who leads People’s Campaign for Right to Water, argues that water in public taps or that used by lower income groups should not be considered as unaccounted for water, as it is the government’s responsibility to ensure water supply.
“There are illegal connections by industries within the city and several large-scale constructions. In lot of newer localities, a pipe is split as it enters the house. While the visible part is metered, there would be another pipe which would go directly into the sump. This is happening with larger constructions,” Mr. Urs said, and added that the BWSSB must hold local engineers responsible.