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Bengaluru water crisis: State government takes control of all private tankers, people pay sky-high prices for tankers as borewells go dry

The water crisis is so severe in the city that resident welfare associations have started rationing water, and issued a blanket ban on washing vehicles and swimming pool activities

Bengaluru is grappling with a severe water crisis, impacting even prominent figures like Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy CM DK Shivakumar. Shivakumar revealed that the borewell at his residence had run dry, while a water tanker was observed entering Siddaramaiah’s official residence. As the prices for every water tanker increased after the Congress government took control of all the tankers, the groundwater table in the city worsened and several borewells in the city dried up.

The water crisis is so severe in the city that resident welfare associations have started rationing water, and issued a blanket ban on washing vehicles and swimming pool activities. Some societies have even asked residents to use disposable cutlery and wet wipes, to reduce usage of water to wash dishes, hands and faces.

In Bengaluru, the price of a ₹500 water tanker has surged to ₹1,500-₹2,000, and the onset of summer hasn’t even commenced. It’s becoming increasingly evident that access to water is slipping out of the grasp of the common man. The impending water crisis in Bengaluru is a stark reminder of the broader challenges facing Indian cities. This crisis didn’t materialize overnight; it’s been brewing for years.

The collaboration between politicians, bureaucrats, and civic authorities with the Builder Mafia and Land Mafia over decades has significantly contributed to the current predicament. Their collective actions have paved the way for the day when water scarcity becomes a reality for many.

The Deputy CM has pledged to secure an ample water supply for Bengaluru “at any expense” and has assured that prices for water tankers will be standardized. With groundwater levels depleting and over 3,000 borewells drying up, the situation is particularly dire in East Bengaluru. Residential communities have been urged to exercise caution in their water usage.

Earlier on 2nd March, deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar had posted from his X handle, “Taking into consideration the importance of meeting drinking water demands in Bengaluru, our govt has decided to take over water supply tankers. This step will ensure that no water trafficking ensues in such critical times and that every household gets a water supply. Therefore, all tube wells supplying water through tankers must register themselves with the govt by 7th March on the website. Also to adequately manage water supplies, daily meetings are being held by BWSSB and Corporation officials, and a meeting is scheduled for 4th March to discuss further on the issue.”

The Karnataka government seized upon this crisis to direct criticism towards the Center, citing its failure to approve the Mekedatu reservoir project.

To tackle drinking water concerns, a grant of Rs 10 crore is proposed for each Assembly constituency in Bengaluru. DK Shivakumar said, “We had initiated the Mekedatu project with the very intention of securing water supply for Bengaluru.  Despite our putting pressure on the Centre to approve the Mekedatu project with our padayatra, the Centre has not approved it. The Centre should at least approve the project at least now given the severity of the crisis.”

He added, “Some of the tankers are supplying water for RS 600 while some others are charging up to Rs 3,000. To standardise the pricing, we have asked all the water tankers to register with the authorities. Prices will be fixed based on the distance travelled by the tankers.”

Notably, for the past few weeks, Bengaluru has been experiencing a severe water crisis this year, months before peak summer, causing many residents of “India’s Silicon Valley” to ration their water consumption and pay nearly double the regular price to satisfy their daily water demands. Weak southwest monsoon rains have impacted groundwater levels and reduced water levels in the Cauvery River basin reservoirs that supply the southern Indian city, which is home to over 14 million people and thousands of IT enterprises and start-ups, according to a report. 

This is causing city residents to pay rising water tanker costs even before the peak summer season begins. Water tanker merchants also in some sections of Bengaluru are now asking up to 2,000 rupees ($24.11) for a 12,000-litre tanker, up from 1,200 rupees ($14.47) a month ago.

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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