There will be no water shortage this summer, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has promised its consumers ahead of summer. Citing a better monsoon last year compared to previous years, the water board said there is water available up to full capacity this year.
“Last summer, we supplied 1325 MLD water per day, against the total capacity of 1,400 MLD. This time, there is more water in the dam too, and we will be able to manage,” said BWSSB chairman Tushar Girinath at a press conference here on Monday.
Bengaluru Development Minister K.J. George added that the city is equipped to meet the water demands of its residents at least until 2031, adding that the government has a list of contingency measures keeping in mind the population growth till that year.
Elaborating further, the Minister said the government allotted 10 TMC of additional water from Cauvery in 2014. The government had tied up with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for a loan of ₹5,500 crore, out of which ₹4,500 crore will be used for bringing this 10 TMC water to the city, he said.
The project, which will begin in 2019, will be completed by 2023. This will increase the supply of water from 1,400 MLD at present to 2,175 MLD, he said, adding that the Yettinahole project will also provide 193 MLD by 2021. “Even if the population of the city increases to 20 million by 2031, from the present 11-12 million, there will be enough water to provide a minimum of 88 litres per day per person,” Mr. George said, dismissing reports of Bengaluru being on the list of cities across the world likely to run out of water, in the wake of severe water crisis faced by Cape Town.
Water from Sharavathi?
He also claimed that talks were on to examine the possibility of drawing water from the Sharavathi. “This would mean that the electricity generated at Sharavathi would have to come down to 500 MW from the existing 1,035 MW. We already have HT wires from Sharavathi to Bengaluru. Laying pipes for water will not be difficult,” Mr. George said.
Mr. Girinath said that in addition to drawing water from river sources, the government is focussing its efforts on rainwater harvesting and sewage treatment — treatment of all sewage generated by 2020 through its ongoing project of constructing 515 MLD STPs — as a long-term measure to conserve water. “By properly implementing rainwater harvesting and STPs, we can reduce water usage on the demand side by 25%,” he said.
‘Govt. model is unsustainable’
Though the government claimed that all is well as far as water availability for Bengaluru is concerned, not everyone is convinced.
Activist Kshitij Urs from the People’s Campaign for Right to Water said even if there was one year drought in the Cauvery basin, Bengaluru would get into a severe crisis situation.
“We need to acknowledge the erratic weather that we have now and that the rains are moving away towards the north,” Mr. Urs said, adding that as long as the city was dependent on one source of water distant from the city, it was not sustainable.
By proposing to draw water from the Sharavathi, the government is looking at an even more distant source, which would not work out in the longer run, he said. “You need to diversify your source and use river water only as a buffer. This is a primary manner in which most cities have been historically managed,” he said.
Sharachchandra Lele from the Ashoka Trust of Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE) said the issue was deeper than meeting needs, adding that even at present the water distribution was inequitable.
“At whose cost will this requirement be met? Will it be at the cost of those living in the Cauvery basin? At what cost will it be done? These are some of the questions that need to be answered,” he said. He also pointed out that 50% of the water being used in the city is coming from groundwater where usage is more than the recharge. “Unless that problem is addressed, it’s unsustainable,” he said.
Control room to monitor Bellandur lake
The government plans to set up a control room near Bellandur lake to tackle the frequent fires, which officials suspect were caused deliberately.
“There is suspicion that miscreants are deliberately setting fire to the lake. We will set up a control room near the premises for stringent monitoring of those polluting the lake,” said Mr. George.