Parched towns dig deeper

Water table depletes; 30 urban centres in State get potable water only once a week

Parched towns dig deeper

This is how the Krishna Raja Sagar dam looked on Friday. DH Photo/ C S DeepakRising temperature coupled with erratic power supply has left several cities and towns in the State virtually dry.

Residents in about 30 urban centres, including many areas in Belgaum and Tumkur, are getting drinking water only once a week.

The situation in Kolar and Bangalore Rural is no better, with the problem likely to aggravate in the coming days.

According to data collected by the Drinking Water Monitoring Cell in the Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA), nearly 3,300 of 22,000 drinking water borewells in 214 urban centres (urban local bodies), excluding Bangalore city, have either turned dry or have stopped functioning.

In many places, borewells which are functioning, have been rendered useless as water cannot be pumped due to lack of power supply which has plagued a majority of the towns across the State. What has compounded the problem is the fast depleting ground water table. The average depth at which ground water is available across the State is 600 feet.

In places like Devanahalli, Chintamani, Pavagada, Kunigal, Malur and Srinivaspura, water is available 1,000 feet below the surface.

With single-phase power supply, water cannot be pumped up from such depths. Moreover, ground water available beyond 600 feet is considered contaminated—mainly due to high flouride content.

As a result, the urban local bodies (ULBs) have been forced to introduce tanker supply services which fall short of the optimum need to quench people’s thirst, let alone meeting the requirement for non-potable purposes. The scene is much worse in the hinterland.
Worst-affected areas

Besides, the DMA data shows that only a handful of urban centres are enjoying the luxury of daily water supply. The drinking water crisis is prevalent in almost every district, the worst affected being Bangalore Rural, Kolar, Tumkur, Chikkaballapur and Chitradurga.
Of the 23 wards in Devanahalli ULB, residents in 17 are getting water supply once in seven days.

In almost all areas of Vijayapura, Hoskote, Doddaballapur and Nelamandaga, which are parts of Bangalore Rural district, drinking water is being supplied through tankers. As many as 11 of 23 wards in Anekal ULB in Bangalore Urban district are getting water once a week.

As per the DMA figures, the situation in these places is worse than the north Karnataka districts of Gulbarga, Raichur, Belgaum, Gadag and Bellary.
“Unprecedented floods in north Karnataka districts recently have recharged the ground water table.

Except for a few places, the water scarcity may not be acute this summer in these districts,” Directorate of Mines Deputy Director Ahyum Ali said.

According to Bangalore Rural Deputy Commissioner R K Raju, Devanahalli, Doddaballapur, Nelamangala and Hoskote are solely dependant on borewells.

“With water table depleting, I have asked officials to press water tankers into service. Each water tanker of 4,000 litres cost Rs 200 to Rs 400.

A five-member family requires at least 250 litres a day. While in Bangalore, a person gets 75 litres a day, in rural it is 55 litres”, he said. Raju said that at least 6 to 8 hours of continuous power supply was required to pump water to a tank. But due to erratic power supply, people were finding it difficult to store water.

Municipal Administration Commissioner Anjum Parvez is not optimistic about the water situation in urban areas. Since Karnataka is a rain shadow state, said Parvez, places where there are no perennial water sources are bound to face water shortage. The state cannot be dependent on ground water, he pointed out.

In the summer months, borewell water yield reduces by 30 to 50 per cent. “Since Kolar, Chikballapur and Bangalore Rural are highly dependent on borewells, water depletion is a major concern. Treatment of waste water appears to be a viable solution to mitigate the shortage”, he said. But he insisted that only 22 of the 214 cities were entirely dependent on borewells. Minister for Urban Development Suresh Kumar said after video conferencing with the respective deputy commissioners, directions have been issued to them to gear up to face the problem. He, however, cautioned that there was no water drought in the state.

Woes galore

* Nearly 50 urban local bodies (ULBs) badly hit

* ULBs supplying water through tankers

* Water is being supplied once a week in 31 towns 

* 3,331 of 22,098 drinking water borewells are defunct

* Power cuts and depleting water table adding to the water woes

* Ground water table has depleted to record 80 metres in Chikkaballapur, Kolar and Tumkur

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