Residents of all the 110 villages — newly added to the city’s corporation — may have hoped for piped water this summer, but that dream is unlikely to be fulfilled.
Tushar Girinath, Chairman, Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), made this announcement at a day-long special BBMP council meeting on Tuesday. “The laying of pipelines in 110 villages at a cost of ₹1,500 crore is likely be completed by May 2019. So this summer, I request the civic body to continue arranging for water through tankers and other means. We will try our best to provide water for over 30 villages by summer,” he said.
The BWSSB received much flak from councillors across parties over the non-uniform supply of water across the city as well as other issues including the perennial problem of sewage flooding stormwater drains and bad road conditions after they were dug up by the agency.
“The crisis at Bellandur lake is a direct result of the failure of BWSSB. But NGT fined the civic body ₹50 crore,” said Padmanabha Reddy, Leader of Opposition in the council. The BJP staged a walkout.
Mr. Girinath left key questions unanswered. He neither shared the BWSSB’s plans for the summer months nor the rationale for the varying frequency of water supply in Bengaluru.
He said the focus was on plugging leakage – presently at a whopping 37.5% – to mobilise more water resources and building Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) infrastructure. “By July 2020, we would have completed several STPs, currently under construction, taking the total capacity to 1,575 MLD, matching the sewage generation in the city. But the Cauvery Vth stage and water supply to 110 villages will demand an additional 800 MLD STP capacity, which we need to build,” he said.
More critically, he said, what was more important was building infrastructure linking the sewage line to STPs.
Former mayor B.N. Manjunath Reddy took objection to the BWSSB levying a penalty of 50% of the water bill for properties even on 30x40 and 40x60 sites citing lack of Occupancy Certificates (OC). “BBMP does not give OC to buildings built on these sites at all. How can these property owners produce an OC?”
Mr. Girinath said the issue was raised at a similar special session for BWSSB issues in 2018 and that the BBMP had passed a resolution saying buildings up to 300 sq.m. built-up area must be exempted from furnishing OC and BWSSB was only following the council's resolution.
Newly elected ruling party leader from Congress Abdul Wajid intervened and said the council will soon pass a resolution to the effect that any building built on sites up to the dimension of 40x60 feet is exempt from OC, to which Mr. Girinath said BWSSB would implement it the very day that the council passes the resolution.
Responding to several complaints raised by councillors on the agency not re-doing roads after digging them up, he said the government had not allotted funds for the work on the grounds that the civic body was allotted over ₹5,000 crore for road works. However, he said BWSSB had already deposited ₹82 crore for such work, and that the agency was ready to pay ₹6 lakh/km to re-do the roads.