BWSSB fined for supplying faecal water for a week

For nearly a week in August, residents of Nisarga Layout got water laced with faeces and urine. SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Hundreds of residents of Nisarga Layout in Doddanekkundi, who took the BWSSB to the human rights commission after faeces- and urine-laced water was supplied to them for a week, have succeeded in convincing the KSHRC to penalise the agency. 

The problem began in the first week of August when excavation work by workmen of Gail Limited caused the breach of a sanitation water pipe and the main water supply line for the area in southern Bengaluru. 

Residents began to notice that something had gone wrong with their water when a foul smell began to emanate from sumps in the locality, explained V Suresh Babu, the president of the resident welfare association. 

“Water coming out of taps and faucets turned yellow. The smell of faecal matter became overpowering and when residents checked their sumps, they discovered that it was full of sewage,” Babu said. 

He added that because much of this badly contaminated water had mixed with freshwater in sumps, residents did not know in the days beforehand that they were consuming water tainted with sewage. 

However, a complaint filed with the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) drew a lethargic response from officials, residents alleged. 

Although Lokesh J, Assistant Engineer (Electrical), BWSSB, told DH that his men had addressed the problem in a day, residents alleged that for the first three to four days, board engineers examined the issue but did nothing. “The problem persisted for nearly a week,” Babu said. 

Lokesh admitted that a lapse by Gail had resulted in damage to water pipes and that many of the 350-400 homes in the locality were possibly supplied with tainted water, but said the board had taken the matter seriously. 

Residents disagreed, and on August 7, they wrote to the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission, accusing the BWSSB of “dereliction of duty”. The complaint, signed by 48 residents, highlighted the suffering of more than 100 residents. 

After receiving contradictory information from the BWSSB chief engineer about water quality in the locality, Justice D H Waghela, the chairperson of the commission, ordered on December 12 that the BWSSB pay Rs 6,400 to residents. 

Commenting on the paltry penalty, a spokesperson for the commission said that it was reflective of the sump-cleaning bills produced by the complainants.

“Many residents did not keep bills, hence were only able to claim this amount,” Babu clarified. 

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