Water woes: Scarcity threatens Bengaluru’s car wash business

The ban on use of potable water for non-essential purposes, accompanied by a hefty fine of ₹5,000 for every violation, has left many car washing centres grappling with financial losses and operational constraints 

Updated - March 31, 2024 12:51 am IST

Published - March 30, 2024 07:47 pm IST - Bengaluru

The ban, accompanied by a hefty fine of ₹5,000 for every violation, has left many car washing centers grappling with financial losses and operational constraints. 

The ban, accompanied by a hefty fine of ₹5,000 for every violation, has left many car washing centers grappling with financial losses and operational constraints.  | Photo Credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN

As the water crisis tightens its grip on Bengaluru, businesses reliant on water, such as car washing centers, are facing unprecedented challenges. The recent ban by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) on using drinking water for non-essential purposes, including car washing, has sent ripples through the industry.

The ban, accompanied by a hefty fine of ₹5,000 for every violation, has left many car washing centers grappling with financial losses and operational constraints. With borewell water and tanker water being the primary source for these businesses, the ongoing water scarcity has amplified their woes.

Rajesh Kumar, proprietor of a car washing center in Koramangala, said, “Our business has been severely impacted by the water crisis. Initially, our approach involved utilising water tanker services to fulfill the car washing requirements of our customers. However, following a stern caution from the BWSSB, we swiftly discontinued the usage of tanker services altogether, leading us to suspend our car wash operations entirely.”

Manoj Kumar, owner of a car spa in Bommanahalli said, “The situation is dire for us. We are witnessing a significant drop in customers as people are becoming more conscious about water usage. As a consequence, our business has witnessed a sharp decline, with only a handful of customers seeking our services now.”

In J.P. Nagar, Anand Gowda, another proprietor, said, “We’ve had to temporarily close our car washing center due to the ongoing water crisis. I had a team of five people working alongside me. However, with our operations halted, they’ve been left with no choice but to seek alternative means of earning a livelihood. Some have resorted to daily wage labor in construction projects, while one has returned to his hometown in Kalaburagi. It’s disheartening to see our livelihoods threatened by factors beyond our control. The authorities need to provide alternative solutions to help businesses like ours survive.”

A few car washing centres, in response to the water scarcity, have implemented dry washing as an alternative method. Rajendra Kumar, who runs a car washing centre in Bannerghatta Road, said, “Water is indispensable for our business operations; there’s simply no alternative when it comes to vehicle washing. Given the current circumstances, we find ourselves in a challenging position. To accommodate our customers’ needs despite the water scarcity, we’ve introduced a dry washing option. This entails cleaning the car solely with cloth and utilizing a vacuum for the interior, ensuring we adapt to the situation while maintaining service quality.”

Prasanna K., another proprietor of a car washing center, explained that they utilise only one litre of water along with 30 ml of a solution to wash an entire car, sometimes even two, contingent on the vehicle size. “By this method, we are surviving our business,” he added.

While the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is advocating treated water for non-essential purposes, car washing centers argue that using treated water is not feasible due to its “high salt content, which can harm vehicle paint and quality.”

However, experts pointed out that borewell water has higher salt content.

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