Thirsty homes

Thirsty homes

Thirsty homes

One of the most crucial factors to consider while buying a house should be the availability of water, writes Prashanth G N

Availability of water is the most crucial factor while deciding to buy a home — be it an independent house or an apartment. South Bangalore, ironically, is the most vulnerable region to water shortage despite the Cauvery River being closest to it. Scores of residents in and around J P Nagar 8th Phase and Sarjapur are put into hardship because they have no Cauvery connection or even borewells.

In general, with no option left, people continue to stay where they are and even go to areas where houses are being built with no guarantee of water. The need to have a permanent house in Bangalore is very crucial and hence people are willing to take houses wherever they are allotted, even if it means facing acute water shortage.

Industrialist and a resident of J P Nagar 8th phase, B Y Ramesh says, “We live in an independent house in T K Deepak Layout in J P Nagar 8th Phase. And our house is just 500 metres from the Cauvery water pipeline, but we still have no Cauvery connection and we don’t get a drop of water despite the water line running so close. On top of this, borewells have gone dry. So we have to depend on water tankers, which have become our lifeline.”

Different sources

Ramesh’s family needs a water tanker every three days. “When the tank is 3/4th empty, we seek a tanker, which on average works out to every three days. Over a month, we roughly need 10 tankers. Each time we get a tanker, we pay Rs 350. The water that we and our tenants consume amounts to about 3,000-4,000 litres.”
The absence of water is not just Ramesh’s plight, but of almost all the houses in Deepak Colony of J P Nagar 8th Phase.

You ask people in the area as to why there is no connection, they tell you the reason is obvious: “People in the middle have to be paid the moolah and since it is for the whole layout, the money to be handed out would be high. Otherwise, how can you explain why we don’t have the Cauvery water connection when the water line runs just 500 metres from our houses. We don’t think it’s a technical issue. It’s a ‘financial’ issue,” say the residents.

Nagaraj Reddy of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai) says Bangalore South is one region hit by water problems despite the Cauvery pipeline running in the area. “Bangalore North anyway doesn’t have the Cauvery pipeline coming into the region, but in the South, there are some regions which get water and some regions which don’t.”

South Bangalore is typically identified with Jayanagar and J P Nagar, but when you take into account the entire region up to Kanakapura and Marathahalli, the belt falls under the southern region. And the worst area hit by lack of water is Sarjapur, home to WIPRO. There are hundreds of flats and gated communities in the area which depend on water tankers because borewells are dry and there’s no Cauvery connection.

A resident of Sarjapur area, Shravanthi S, says the region they are staying in is a rocky terrain where borewells cannot be dug. A cluster of apartments around 500 depend purely on water tankers and the number is nearly 70 to 80.

There is yet another cluster of over 1,000 apartments which depend on water tankers. The average rate of water is higher than in J P Nagar with tankers charging anywhere from Rs 450 to Rs 600, resulting in a spending of over Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 per month by an average four- member family.

While the crisis with regard to apartments has been highlighted well, the water shortage for independent houses is also severe and has not received due attention. A youngster, Anurag Rakesh, answers to why his family is still staying in J P Nagar despite water shortage, “This is our own house. How can we sell it?”. Further adding, he says, “ We will stay here till we can afford this. The water problem may get addressed soon.”

Tanker mafia

Shravanthi points to a very deep malaise in Sarjapur. “My assessment is that the water tanker owners pay off the corporators to pile pressure on the BWSSB not to provide Cauvery water supply to residents. This increases dependence on tankers, who make a killing selling water. In our complex, we need 20 tankers a day. But in the heart of summer, an artificial scarcity is created and we now get only five tankers a day. There are blocks a little away from my complex which require 50 to 70 tankers a day. You can estimate the money that is flowing into the pockets of tanker owners.”

“There is actually a tanker mafia in operation. They pay the water owner a sum, who may be a farmer. They then draw water, fill tankers and supply the same to residents. Nobody knows how much they pay the farmer who has water. There is also no guarantee that the tankers will keep coming. So there are plenty of issues with water in Sarjapur area.”