Demand for water tankers drop, prices shoot up in Bengaluru

Water tanker operators are hoping that their business will pick up once tech parks reopen and people return to the city.

Water tanker operators are hoping that their business will pick up once tech parks reopen and people return to the city. | Photo Credit: File photo

While  there is a drop in demand for tanker water in the city this summer, prices have shot up by over 40%. This is due to low volume of trade and the rise in fuel prices, industry sources said.

Two factors have played a role in the significant drop in demand for water tankers in the city’s outer zones even though they are yet to be serviced by piped water.  For one, good rains in the last two years have ensured that most borewells are recharged, and a drop in population in these areas. 

“During the pandemic, when work from home became the norm, the population in most apartments dropped by over 40% as many people left the city to return to their hometowns. Though people are now slowly returning to Bengaluru, it is not back to the pre-pandemic levels yet. In absolute numbers the population has dropped and hence the demand for water. Where an apartment used to buy 10 tankers of water, they are now able to make do with five or six,” said Sudhanshu Mohanty, a resident of Whitefield. 

Srirama Reddy, a water tanker supplier in Marathahalli, concurred and said the demand for tanker water has dropped drastically ever since the pandemic. It has yet to go back to the pre-pandemic levels. “Most apartments have halved their weekly intake. With tech parks slowly opening up for offline work, people have begun to trickle back in and we hope this will help our business pick up,” he said. 

Most apartments also have borewells which have recharged due to good rains and less usage over the last two years. “Today, even with new borewells, we are able to find water at a depth of 400-500 feet, compared to over 800-1000 feet earlier,” Ajay Raj, another water tanker business man in Bommanahalli said. 

However, water tanker prices continue to rise. “The fuel price hike compared to the previous year is very steep and low demand has reduced the scale of our business so much, that unless we hike prices we will not be able to make it viable,” argued Mr. Reddy.

N. Jayaram, Chairman, Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board, said the agency does supply 5000 litres of water at ₹250, but only during exigencies and does not run the service commercially.

Cauvery Stage V yet to achieve a critical mass

The project to provide Cauvery water in the newly added 110 villages on the city’s outskirts — Cauvery Stage V, which has been underway for over a decade — has been completed in 51 villages. However, even in these villages not many residents have availed of piped water connections. 

Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) sources said as against a target of nearly 72,000 properties, the agency has been successful in getting only around 30% to get connections. While one of the reasons is the Beneficiary Contribution Charge (BCC), which many property owners find steep, BWSSB feels this lack of interest is only temporary.

“Civil works to get an additional 750 MLD of water from Cauvery to the city for Stage V is still underway. It will be completed only by March 2023. So even in these 51 villages, we are presently providing water only once a week, rationing available resources. But once the civil works are complete and we get additional water, we are confident that residents will flock to get their connections,” N. Jayaram, Chairman, BWSSB told The Hindu.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2022 4:38:13 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/demand-for-water-tankers-drop-prices-shoot-up-in-bengaluru/article65335151.ece