Saturday, February 06, 2010

Water scarcity is the bane of their lives

Water scarcity is the bane of their lives City Ballot Problems

Deepa Kurup
Corroded pipes lead to mixing of sewage and drinking water
— Photo: K. Gopinathan

Making a killing: Water vendors do brisk business at D.J. Halli with each pot fetching them about Rs. 30.
BANGALORE: Many pockets of the erstwhile Fraser Town, now Pulakeshinagar, are reminiscent of the old colonial Bangalore. Unfortunately, so are its civic amenities such as water pipes, sewerage system, and even its horribly laid footpaths.

So in this Assembly constituency located in the city’s Cantonment area, posh localities with wide tree-lined avenues are juxtaposed with some of the poorest slums. However, the great levellers that they are, issues such as water scarcity, lack of sanitation and proper garbage disposal, contamination of drinking water and open drains (doubling as garbage dumps) dog the entire area.

Take for instance, wards such as Devarjeevanahalli and Kaval Byrasandra lying on the northern end of the constituency. With scarce or no water supply, areas such as Doddananagar, Madinamohalla and Roshannagar here to name a few, have pipes laid years ago that are yet to see a drop of water. A thriving occupation here is that of water vendors who ferry the precious liquid in colourful plastic pots, each going for Rs. 4 or Rs. 5. “For a household that earns Rs.100 once in three days, how can I afford to spend Rs.25 to Rs. 30 on water every day?” asks Srinivas, a mason.

Add to that the fact that every now and then an outbreak of malaria, gastroenteritis and even cholera lands their families in hospital, life here is “unliveable”, as Ashfaq S. puts it. Ask about the civic elections and they nod with meaningful looks on their faces. Yes, political leaders have resumed their “rounds” of late. “Why else would anyone come here?” a visibly irritated Mr. Ashfaq snaps.

A few km away, in the more affluent localities in Pulakeshinagar, Munneshwaranagar or S.K. Garden, issues are similar. Proximity to the city centre makes them prime localities; however, most areas face acute water shortage. Residents blame the BWSSB for poor management. One of them, Samjuktha P.C., points out that for months water leaked on to the roads on Bore Bank Road, Benson Town. “This when just three roads away people order up to two water tankers daily.” Residents say that the old pipes are corroded, often leading to mixing of sewage and drinking water.

The “zero garbage bin” policy adopted by the BBMP in this area has clearly failed here. Garbage is strewn everywhere, attracting stray dogs.

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