Water in BWSSB's 6k borewells unfit for drinking: PAC report

Water in BWSSB's 6k borewells unfit for drinking: PAC report
Water in 6,178 borewells maintained by the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is not fit for drinking, according to a report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the state legislature.

The report of the committee headed by Padmanabhanagar MLA R Ashoka was tabled in the state legislature on Monday. The report states that of the 12,986 borewells coming under the jurisdiction of the BWSSB, as many as 5,958 were found to be non-functional. As per the tests done by the quality assurance cell of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), water in only 850 borewells is fit for drinking while that in 6,178 borewells is contaminated and unfit for consumption. The report is for the year 2016-17.

The report states that the BWSSB has not taken any steps to stop drawing of water from these borewell. The BWSSB’s inaction is posing a grave public health risk as the water is contaminated with chemicals and disease causing germs, the report adds. The borewells are located in 800 sqkms of the city.

The committee has sought a report from the BWSSB, within next three months, as to why the public has been allowed to draw water from these contaminated borewells. It has also sought another report asking the BWSSB as to why it did not takes steps to replace equipment of the contaminated borewells to repair the non-functional ones. Even this report has to be submitted within next three months.

As many as 3,454 borewells from seven city municipality councils and one town municipality council were transferred to the BWSSB in 2008. The PAC has raised question why the BWSSB had called for tenders for repair of 2,100 of the newly transferred borewells between 2008 and 2010 without assigning any reason or conducting any survey.

The BWSSB had no information on when the borewells were drilled, their working status and yet it called for tenders in 26 packages. Under each packages the repair and overhaul of 75 borewells was awarded. The contractors were provided Rs 99 lakh for each package which was later enhanced to Rs 1.08 crore, the report states.

As per the tender, the BWSSB had to provide submersible pumps and GI pipes to the contractors. But, the BWSSB provided gate value, non-return values worth Rs 1.81 crore free of cost to contractors. In all, the magnanimity on the BWSSB resulted in an additional burden of Rs 4.36 crore on the state exchequer. The PAC has recommended disciplinary action against officials responsible for the lapses.

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