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Cauvery Stage V draws to a close; what next for BWSSB?

Given that water supply projects take a long time and are financially heavy, experts and residents suggest that the BWSSB should begin work on the Cauvery Stage VI soon by picking up the learnings from the Cauvery Stage V project.
Last Updated : 30 June 2024, 02:42 IST

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With the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) announcing that the Cauvery Stage V project would be commissioned by July end, the wait for Cauvery water is soon coming to an end for lakhs of residents of Bengaluru who reside in the 110 villages that were added to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits in 2008. However, what next for BWSSB in urban water management is a question lingering on everyone’s mind, given that Bengaluru still has a share of six TMCFT to claim from Cauvery. 

Given that water supply projects take a long time and are financially heavy, experts and residents suggest that the BWSSB should begin work on the Cauvery Stage VI soon by picking up the learnings from the Cauvery Stage V project.

“Clearly, it took us nearly a decade to get the Cauvery Stage V to completion. Since the water supply projects are both labour intensive and are financially huge, BWSSB should start planning the next stage immediately and especially look at fund mobilisation,” said Vishwanath S, a water conservation expert.

Senior BWSSB officials also echoed the same, stating that resource mobilisation was crucial since neither the board nor the government could fund such a big project. 

“We understand that there is a need to plan for the future and hence, we have already started preparing the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for Cauvery Stage VI. We are hoping that the report will be ready within the year’s end after which we will submit it to the government seeking their support to monetise funds,” said BWSSB Chairman Ramprasat Manohar V. The board plans to seek support from the government to approach international agencies to fund the project either in the form of grants or loans. 

Stage VI to help suburban areas

According to sources in BWSSB, stage VI could help supply Cauvery water to suburban areas around Bengaluru including Anekal, Nelamangala, Hoskote, and Devanahalli. Considering the cost and management efforts required, the BWSSB is mulling over providing only a bulk supply of water to these towns. The Urban Local Bodies (ULB) in these areas would be held responsible for providing door-to-door supply. 

As of now, the board is looking at a 2028 deadline for the project but the officials said it might take a little longer if the funds flow in slower. 

Residents eagerly waiting 

While it is good news that the board is keen on implementing the Cauvery Stage VI project soon, the residents of the 110 villages who have seen the struggle through the implementation of the Cauvery Stage V project suggested that the BWSSB should plan future projects better. “We have been waiting for Cauvery water for over five years now and the officials have only been promising new deadlines. There is a need to make the projects people-centric and understand the on-ground problems. For many months, during the Cauvery Stage V project, our engineers kept telling us that there were some land acquisition problems. In the future at least, the officials should ensure that they acquire all the properties before digging up the roads and causing public inconvenience,” said Kochu Sankar, president, Trinity Enclave Residents’ Welfare Association in North Bengaluru.

Many other residents also suggested that the BWSSB ensure that the entire project is transparent and update the public on the progress regularly. 

Integrated water management 

Delving into what is next for BWSSB, experts also suggested the need for an integrated water management system, especially after the water crisis this summer. 

“There is a need for an integrated approach to water management and holistic planning. We need to look at improving groundwater levels, preventing the entry of sewage into lakes, and putting wastewater to better use. While Cauvery stage VI will definitely help ease the situation, we should simultaneously look at such sustainable projects,” said Shreya Nath, Managing Partner of the Urban Water Programme at Well Labs.

Vishwanath also suggested that the board should make the best use of the Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) and use wastewater to fill the lakes. 

Acknowledging the need for an integrated approach, Ramprasat Manohar, said that the BWSSB had already planned a number of projects.

“Given that the rain pattern in the city is also changing, we definitely need to look at long-term sustainable projects. We have many such projects in the pipeline,” Manohar said. 

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Published 30 June 2024, 02:42 IST

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