Plug the leaks

The water woes of Bangaloreans are not due to the shortage of water but the ineptitude of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB).  It has been reported that of the 900 million litres per day of Cauvery water that is pumped from Thorekadanahalli, a whopping 400 MLD is lost due to the BWSSB’s negligence. Roughly 30 per cent is lost due to leaking pipes and another 10 per cent is channelled out through unauthorised connections. This means that while there is plenty of water coming out of Thorekadanahalli for the use of Bangalore’s residents, it is not being made available to them. The BWSSB’s eternal gripe that there is not enough water is clearly not true.

Besides, it is losing a large amount of revenue by not acting to regularise connections. It is not as if water authorities are unaware of this. The BWSSB has apparently identified the illegal connections. Why the delay then in regularising them?  If pipes are rusty and leaking, why is the BWSSB dragging its feet with regard to replacing them? The BWSSB says that 50,000 water meters require replacement.  Early this year, it announced plans to replace around 60,000 pipelines connecting houses in Bangalore’s south zone. How much progress has it made?

BWSSB authorities claim that Bangalore’s water woes will end once the Cauvery Stage IV Phase II project is completed. It is unlikely to if pipes of good quality are not laid and if infrastructure is not maintained. Adding more stages and phases to our water infrastructure enables more money to flow into the pockets of corrupt contractors and officials; it does not necessarily result in more water flowing into our taps. If it would undertake repair of existing pipes and regularisation of connections with the same diligence and enthusiasm with which they start new projects, Bangalore’s water woes and the BWSSB’s revenue problems will be history.

Roads dug up to repair or lay new pipes are a common sight across Bangalore. What is intriguing is that this work almost always appears to be set in motion when the monsoons are around the corner. It is not surprising then that the work that BWSSB undertakes amidst much fanfare never gets done.  Bangalore’s residents want clean water flowing out of their taps. But BWSSB’s ineptitude has left them dealing with drinking water shortage, waterlogged roads and overflowing sewage.

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