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Explained: What's Causing Bengaluru Water Crisis? How Is Karnataka Govt Responding to It?

The IT city presently has access to about 1,850 million litres per day (MLD) and needs at least 1,680 MLD more to meet its water needs.

PTI
Bengaluru Water crisis | Photo: PTI
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With declining groundwater levels, diminishing reservoirs, insufficient rainfall, dried-up borewells, water supply cuts, and long queues of women holding empty buckets —Bengaluru is facing one of the biggest water crises in its history.

The city presently has access to about 1,850 million litres per day (MLD) and needs at least 1,680 MLD more to meet its water needs.

The IT hub is facing a severe water shortage and residents are complaining that water tanker companies are charging high prices, taking advantage of the water scarcity. The Karnataka government has taken several measures to address the pressing issue. We explain.

Causes Of Bengaluru's Water Crisis

The Bengaluru water crisis is caused by a number of reasons including a lack of rainfall, depleting groundwater, inadequate infrastructural planning, and the influence of water tanker operations. 

The IT hub is particularly affected by a severe drought, with insufficient rainfall leading to a decline in the Cauvery River's water levels. This shortage impacts not only drinking water but also irrigation. Furthermore, the lack of rain in recent months has contributed to the drying up of borewells in Bengaluru.

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), responsible for the city's water supply, primarily relies on the Cauvery River for water. Areas without access to Cauvery water connections depend on borewells or tanker water.

Residents of Bengaluru are complaining that water tanker companies are charging high prices, taking advantage of the water scarcity. It used to cost between ₹600 and ₹800 for a 1000-litre water tanker, but now it costs more than ₹2000.

The rapid urbanisation of Bengaluru, once known as the "garden city" and "pensioner's paradise" for its pleasant climate has come at a huge cost to the environment.

Over the last four decades, the city has lost 79% of water bodies and 88% of green cover, while areas covered by concrete have increased 11-fold, according to studies at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

What Is Karnataka Govt Doing To Solve Bengaluru Water Crisis? 

Amidst Bengaluru's severe water crisis, the Karnataka government has taken several measures to address the pressing issue.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has established a control room at its head office to tackle water supply challenges in 110 villages across 35 wards.

Additionally, the civic body has appointed nodal officers to manage drinking water issues in various parts of the city grappling with the water crisis.

Crackdown On Unregistered Tankers: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar announced that the government would seize unregistered water tankers if their owners fail to register with the authorities by March 7.

Addressing a press conference at the BBMP head office, Shivakumar said, “Of the total 3,500 water tankers in Bengaluru city, only 10 per cent, that is 219 tankers, have registered with the authorities. The government will seize them if they don’t register before the deadline. Water is not the property of any individual but is a resource that belongs to the government. The government has the right to take control of water sources.”

Utilisation Of Milk Tankers: Officials have also been instructed to utilise unused milk tankers for water supply.  The tankers owned by the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) will be cleaned before being used to provide water in Bengaluru. Until the shortage is fixed, water will be supplied by these tankers.

Financial Allocation: Chief Minister Shivakumar also announced that a total of Rs 556 crore has been earmarked to address the water crisis in Bengaluru. Each MLA in Bengaluru city has been granted Rs 10 crore to address water scarcity in their respective constituencies.

Additionally, the BBMP has earmarked Rs 148 crore, while the BWSSB has allocated Rs 128 crore to tackle the issue.

“Of the 16,781 borewells in our records, 6,997 have dried up. The remaining 7,784 borewells are operational. The government will drill new borewells. There is a slight difference in pricing between local vendors and Tamil Nadu vendors and it will be sorted out soon,” the chief minister noted.

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