Water board must step in

Water board must step in

Water tanker

Even as many Bengalureans are confining themselves to their homes, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, residents in some eastern parts of the city are facing an additional hardship in these testing times due to the non-availability of water for their daily needs. The situation has arisen with private water tanker suppliers resorting to a strike against the decision of the authorities in Hosakote to disallow extraction of borewell water which is supplied to areas like Whitefield, Outer Ring Road and Bellandur.  With many areas of the city yet to receive Cauvery water, the supply of which is anyway erratic, the residents of several localities, especially those living in apartments, are forced to depend on borewells or water tankers. The over-exploitation of groundwater in the city has led to drying up of borewells, making water tankers indispensable.

While the authorities have disconnected power supply to over 35 borewells in Hosakote on the ground that water is being illegally drawn for commercial purposes, the end-users claim that the water is utilised only for domestic requirements of households. The borewell owners, who assert that they have obtained permission to supply water for agricultural and drinking purposes, find fault with the authorities for disconnecting power in the middle of the night. The local administration has a point though, with the tahsildar arguing that the action was inevitable as the pumping out of large volumes of water had led to depletion of the water table, thereby affecting agriculture in this drought-hit taluk. While the authorities have a duty to protect the interests of the local people, denying drinking water, which is a basic need, without any advance warning or alternative arrangements is simply inhuman. The Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) should immediately press its own tankers into service and help mitigate the problem.

However, even such piece-meal interventions only offer temporary solace. A permanent solution will not be available unless the government takes a holistic and long-term view of the burgeoning city’s requirements. With Cauvery water woefully inadequate to meet the unquenchable thirst of Bengaluru, the government is now contemplating drawing water from Sharavathi in Shivamogga, but other important issues like reviving lakes, rainwater harvesting, recharging the water table and use of recycled water for non-consumptive purposes have not received the attention they deserve.

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