Birthpangs of Cauvery water for new consumers

Birthpangs of Cauvery water for new consumers

Water contamination, disconnection, metered billing. Connected finally to the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB)’s extensive, City-wide pipeline network, lakhs of Bangaloreans in Outer Bangalore are suddenly faced with these hitherto unheard of terms.

Caught in a maze of legal and illegal connections, drained out by the rigours of road-digging and pipe-laying, BWSSB too has another wall to surmount: Getting residents pay up!

For six years, newly added BBMP areas had relied on borewells and the omnipresent water tankers. Many yearned for Cauvery water. Yet, when it finally arrived last month, only a few more than 40,000 households had signed up to legally recieve the water. The 1.4 lakh connections targeted under the Greater Bangalore Water and Sanitation Project (GBWASP) had a whopping 80,000 deficit, a jaw-dropping financial mess-in-the-making for the BWSSB.

The Board eventually cut down the planned water outflow for the area from 500 MLD to 220 MLD.

Individual house owners, who had paid the money, fixed the meter and connected the main lines to their sumps had rejoiced at the first drop of Cauvery. It seemed finally a big relief from the tanker mafia. But then came the real scare: Contamination.

In arguably the first such episode in GBWASP history, at least 200 houses near HAL were affected last week, hours after a sewage worker dug into the wrong line — triggering a massive leakage on Ambedkar Road, Annasandrapalya.

The overwhelming stench of sewage in their sumps had left many residents cursing their decision to even get connected.

Leak-proof pipes

BWSSB Engineer-in-Chief, T Venkataraju is, however, certain that the pipe material used in the GBWASP is leak-proof and thus, not prone to contamination.

“The pipes are made of Ductile Iron (DI) and secured with gasket joints. They will not leak. Besides, the Medium Density Polythene pipes that are used to link the main feeder lines to individual houses are encased in GI pipes,” he explained to Deccan Herald.

But the Board had left the last-mile connections to private contractors, who eventually fleeced the house owners by charging much beyond the informally fixed rates.

The GI-pipe encasing was not the rule, and the quality of pipes which were used, left much to be desired.

By 2008, BWSSB had laid an elaborate network of water pipelines in the new BBMP areas. But the recent drainage work had played havoc with that network, the excavators slicing through the fragile PVC lines. Most pipes had to be relaid, and tested. The five-year wait for Cauvery water had increased public apathy, a factor now attributed to the delay in payment.

Nevertheless, the Board wants to start metered billing within a month or two.
Disconnection of illegal connections are already underway. BWSSB has urged the new consumers to demand meter-reading from the concerned Executive Engineers.

To reassure consumers wary of meters running on air in the pipes, the Board is insisting on fixing the instrument at the lower side of the ‘U’-turn in the line.

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