Monday, February 22, 2010


Summer Has Just Begun. Already The Water Scene In Outlying Areas Is Alarming, Report Jayashree Nandi And A T Subrahmanya

Bangalore: The Outer Ring Road is dotted with huge high-rises. These sprawling apartments are not covered by the BWSSB yet, and their borewells are drying.
Not just these apartments. The residents of erstwhile City Municipal Councils (CMCs) are yet to get Cauvery water supply. So they totally depend on private suppliers and shell out as much as Rs 8 lakh per month! In the city, residents pay anything between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000 per month.
Most of the apartment complexes on Sarjapur Road, Bellandur junction area, Bannerghatta Road, Whitefield and Marathalli depend on borewell water. But since these wells go dry, the residents and the management of the complexes turn to private water suppliers. Now with the sweltering heat on, the water scarcity has become more pronounced.
“How can the authorities give clearance to these huge apartments without any surety of water supply? BDA had approved the construction of this apartment on the basis of assurance from BWSSB. We purchased the apartment in 2003. BWSSB had assured to give water in 2004. Till date there is no water. We are on a rocky terrain and so cannot access borewell water. All we can do is buy tanker water. We need 70 to 80 tankers every day to sustain these 550 apartments. We know that the sources of the tanker water might not be reliable. But what do we do?,’’ questions Raj Ramchandani, management committee member, Springfields apartments near Outer Ring Road.
Presently, he is taking help from the local leaders to drill borewells somewhere close by.
There are other apartments too which rely on borewells. “We depend only on borewell water. The BWSSB water supply does not cover our area. Earlier borewellls would yield adequate water. But in eight years, many apartments have come up leading to less pressure. This means our borewells are drying,’’ says Ashok Ramaswami, president, RWA, Sobha Garnet, on Sarjapur Road.
They have a rainwater recharge system but not a rainwater storage sump yet. With the BWSSB legislation of mandatory rainwater harvesting coming into place, these apartments will have to pull up their socks soon.
The Sun City is another huge apartment block near Sarjapur Road where water shortage looms. With around 1,300 apartments, the consumption is around 10 lakh litres to 12 lakh litres per day. The building authorities are also worried that people are not paying heed to the
looming water disaster.
Adding to their woes is eight to nine hours of power cuts. This has the DG sets running for hours to pump water from borewells. “On some days we have to spend as much as Rs 50,000 on diesel to pump water. And we do not charge for water. You can imagine the financial strain,’’ he said.
The apartments are looking at alternatives. Sobha Garnet has a groundwater recharge system and specific car washing days and timings and marked days for landscaping and gardening. Sun City has a sewage treatment plant (STP) that recycles around 25,000 litres per day which is then used for watering the garden. The private water suppliers are making a killing. When TOI contacted some water tanker suppliers, they quoted anything between Rs 450 and Rs 600 for one load of water tanker supply. They said each tanker holds approximately 6,500 litres of water and can be used by 80 to 100 people.
If one goes by their claim, an apartment complex housing 1,500 families needs on an average 40 tankers, spending Rs 20,000 on water alone per day. This would in turn cost Rs 6 lakh per month for an apartment complex keeping the prices at minimum.
While BWSSB officials maintain that the Litre Per Capita Demand (LPCD) is about 120 litres and they supply around 120 litres in the city, residents complain that the water supply is not adequate. According to Raj Ramchandani, managing committee member of Springfields apartment complex on Outer Ring Road which is mainly dependent on tanker water supply, the water suppliers have formed unions.
The flourishing water supply business has also led to the indiscriminate drilling of borewells. But the authorities are yet to check the rampant private water supply business or the drilling which contributes to the groundwater depletion. A BWSSB official said: “There is no law to restrict private water tanker supply business. At most the BBMP health officials can take action against them if they supply unhygienic water.’’ The Karnataka Ground Water (Regulation for protection of drinking water sources) draft bill formulated in 1999 is yet to see the light of the day, the official said. The Act proposes to restrict the drilling of borewells within 500 metres of public water source.
‘Give me a solution’
As the areas on the outskirts of the city face severe water shortage, BWSSB minister Katta Subrahmanya Naidu expresses helplessness and asks citizens for a solution. In a chat with TOI:
What is the BWSSB doing about the grave water crisis on the outskirts of the city?
Yes there is a problem. We have arranged tanker water and water cable for borewells and are also planning to increase supply of more potable water by reducing supply to industries.
Groundwater table is depleting. What about recharge?
Rainwater harvesting has been made mandatory to tackle that.
There are health concerns over private tankers. Are you planning anything about that?
We have arranged for testing and distributing of tanker water.
What is the solution to water woes?
I don’t have any solutions. What can I do? You please give me some solutions! TNN


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