In the grip of the tanker mafia

In the grip of the tanker mafia

In the grip of the tanker mafia

It is summer time, and residents on Bengaluru’s periphery are already at the mercy of the notorious water tanker mafia. The demand for water has risen dramatically in the 110 villages, now part of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). But, since there is no BWSSB pipeline network, people here are forced to depend on borewells and private water tankers.

BWSSB’s water lines could take at least another five years to reach these erstwhile village areas. The Board is still preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR). This is time enough for the tanker mafia to make a killing. Residents of the apartments that have mushroomed all across these areas have no choice but to pay up. As the summer advances, the crisis is bound to deepen. 

Tanker operators continues to exploit the residents’ desperation by charging Rs. 500 to Rs. 2,000 per load. In the absence of a regulatory mechanism to control this mafia, the rates are likely to go way beyond Rs. 3,000 as the temperature rises. Borewells within apartment complexes are drying up fast, leaving no choice whatsoever for the dwellers.

High-rise apartment blocks have sprung up in big numbers on either side of the Outer Ring Road. Most of these depend on either their own borewells or private water tankers. Sun City apartment on Sarjapur road seems to have learnt from its previous harsh experiences. “This time, we made an annual agreement with multiple private tanker owners to provide water for Rs 500 (6,000 kilo litres). We need at least 160 tankers of water each day. Each apartment spends an average of Rs 3,000 every month,” says a resident here.

Sudarshan R, a small-time tanker operator from Varthur claims he charges around Rs 500 for each load. But, Janardhan Rao, a resident of Marathahalli, contests this saying he usually pays Rs 2,000 for a tanker of water. “The borewell went dry and I had no other option but shell out this heavy price last year. This time, I saved a lot of water thanks to rain water harvesting,” he says.

Is there any plan to regulate the water tanker prices? S Krishnappa, Engineer in Chief, BWSSB, says the Board has no authority to monitor private suppliers. “We can act against individuals who were allowed to drill borewells for domestic purpose, but were selling water. Unless there is a specific complaint, it is not possible to keep an eye on all the domestic borewells,” he reasons.

All that the Board can do is to address a crisis situation. In case of any severe water shortage in the new areas, the Board will supply water from its 8,000 borewells and take the help of private borewells, he assures.