Can Bangalore’s Water Crisis Be Fixed? Complete Coverage

Bangalore's Water Crisis

Bangalore’s water crisis has become the talk of the town. Reason? Today, Bangalore is going through a water crisis, and tomorrow another city/town/village will suffer. That’s why the entire India is looking into how to fix Bangalore’s water crisis…

Bangalore's Water Crisis (1)

What’s the prime reason for Bangalore’s water crisis? You may ask.

Due to depleting levels of groundwater and acute drought in the Cauvery basin. So, what’s the solution to tackle this situation? Can Bangalore’s water crisis be fixed? If yes, then how?

Go through this write-up and you will find out soon!

(A) Background of Bangalore’s Water Crisis

As you have read above, Bangalore is facing a serious water problem right now. You know, the city’s groundwater levels are going down and down. Corporates, schools, and coaching centers have started work-from-home and online classes to tackle the water crisis for now.

Do you know who is the main culprit here? The drought in the Cauvery basin! Yes, and that’s one of our main water sources in Karnataka’s capital region.

It’s not just about drinking water either. Farmers who rely on water for irrigation are also struggling. Can you believe that almost half of the borewells in Bangalore have dried up? That’s nearly 7,000 out of 14,700!

Because of this, the water demand has gone way up, especially in places like the IT hub, where people are paying a lot more for water tankers. Even the government has had to step in to try and sort out the situation.

Let’s cover the depth of Bangalore’s water crisis in more detail-

(A.1) Supply vs Demand

We don’t have exact figures for how much drinking water Bangalore needs, but we can make an educated guess based on what we currently use. Right now, the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) provides about 1450 million liters of water per day (MLD) from the Cauvery River, and on top of that, we extract nearly half of that amount, roughly 700 MLD, from borewells. Imagine, every day we’re taking out half the amount of water that comes from the Cauvery!

The people in charge of supplying water, the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), are saying that while they can manage the situation of Bangalore’s water crisis in some parts of the city, it’s much worse in the outskirts.

It’s becoming increasingly common to spot water tankers bustling along the streets of Bengaluru. Previously, these suppliers would typically charge customers around Rs.700 to Rs.800 per tanker on regular days. However, with the surge in demand, prices have skyrocketed to approximately Rs.1,500 to Rs.1,800 per tanker, as reported by Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar.

(A.2) Sources under Strain

You might wonder where Bangalore gets its water from. Well, we have two main sources: the Cauvery River and borewells dug by the BBMP. Normally, we get about 1,450 million litres per day from the Cauvery and another 700 million liters per day from borewells. But things are not looking good lately.

(A.3) Hopes Dashed

Bangalore's Water Crisis

There’s this big project called the Cauvery V Stage project, which was supposed to give us even more water, around 775 million litres per day. But with the drought affecting the Cauvery basin, those plans might not work out as expected. According to the BWSSB, the amount of water coming into the city has dropped by a whopping 50%.

(A.4) Drought in Cauvery Basin

The Cauvery River itself is in bad shape. Because of the lack of rain, the water level has gone way down. Blame it on the weak southwest monsoon and something called the El Nino effect, as per the India Meteorological Department. This has not only affected irrigation but also led to a shortage of drinking water in many parts of Karnataka, including Bangalore.

El Nino effect in India

Note: We have already explained, “What is El Nino & How does it affect the Indian economy?” You can go through the article for detailed information.

(A.5) Historical Lag in Infrastructure

Most of the new buildings in Bangalore rely entirely on groundwater. It’s crazy to think that even our apartment, built back in 2002, didn’t get piped water until 2014-15! And get this, about one-third of the urban areas, including many villages around the city, still don’t have piped water. This problem has been going on for decades; since the 1960s, the piped water supply in Bangalore has been lagging. Despite efforts and a lot of money spent, we’re still struggling.

(A.6) Past Predictions

Last year, the government declared a drought in many parts of Karnataka i.e. 195 taluks, including some areas of Bangalore. The situation got even worse later on, affecting more districts, like Mandya and Mysuru, which are important sources of water for Bangalore. The numbers rose to 216 of the 236 taluks in Karnataka later.

So, you see, the problem is pretty serious, and we all need to do something about it.

(A.7) Govt. Forecast: More Drought Ahead

And you know what? It’s going to get worse, especially in the summer. Government experts are saying that 7,082 villages in Karnataka and 1,193 wards, including some areas in Bangalore, could face a serious drinking water crisis soon.

(A.8) Diminishing Supply and Future Projection

Sure, there’s talk about the Cauvery Stage V water supply project that might start this year and give us around 750 MLD of water in phases. 

But guess what? That’s pretty much it. 

The Cauvery is maxed, and there’s no more water to spare for Bangalore. So, adding up what we have from the Cauvery and groundwater, we’re looking at around 2200 MLD (in a normal year). But here’s the kicker: our demand keeps growing. The BWSSB’s planned demand was supposed to be met by 2025, but the reality is, we’re already using way more water than planned.

By 2031, we could be looking at needing around 2900+ MLD, and the way things are going, we might hit 3200-3400 MLD before 2030. But the BWSSB’s forecasts only go up to 2041, and they’re already saying they don’t have any more planned supply coming after that.

(A.9) Upcoming Challenges

So, where are we going to get all this extra water from? With borewells drying up and groundwater levels dropping, it’s not looking good. We’d need some serious rainfalls to replenish our water sources, but can we really count on that? Every bad monsoon just makes the situation worse, with less water in the Cauvery and even less underground. And if we have a severe drought in the next few years and lose over 1000 MLD of water, what then? How do you ration water to millions of people?

(B) Solutions for Bangalore’s Water Crisis

Bangalore's Water Crisis (2)

Let’s explore the potential solutions with which Bangalore’s water crisis can be fixed!

(B.1) Karnataka Government’s Rs.556 crore plan

So, the Karnataka government is taking some big steps to tackle the water crisis. They’ve set aside a whopping ₹556 crore to deal with the situation. Now, here’s the interesting part- each MLA representing Bengaluru gets ₹10 crore to sort out water scarcity in their area. That’s a pretty hefty chunk of change!

But wait, there’s more! The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has also chipped in with ₹148 crore, and the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is adding another ₹128 crore to the pot. It’s like a team effort to tackle this problem head-on.

Now, Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar had some wise words to share. He said, “Water doesn’t belong to any individual; it’s for everyone.” And you know what? They’re setting up a war room to tackle this issue. All the officials are going to brainstorm and come up with solutions. Plus, they’re going to fix a common price for water tankers, so nobody gets overcharged.

So, with all this money and effort being put into solving the water crisis, it sounds like they’re really serious about making sure everyone in Bengaluru has enough water to go around.

(B.2) Authorization of Water Tankers

Shivakumar mentioned that the government is actively scouting areas where water is accessible, aiming to provide it to everyone at a fair price. Additionally, he issued a warning to water tanker owners, stating that tankers not registered by the March 7 deadline would face seizure by the state government.

Earlier, on March 4, Shivakumar revealed that out of Bengaluru’s 3,500 water tankers, only a mere 10% (219) are officially registered with the authorities. To address this, efforts are underway to streamline registration processes.

Furthermore, the government has instructed BWSSB officials to be ready to source water from regions abundant in groundwater. Currently, BWSSB is deploying 210 tankers for water distribution. Despite upcoming elections, Shivakumar reassured that regulatory measures would not hinder water supply initiatives.

(B.3) Standard Water Tanker Prices

Bangalore's Water Crisis

According to the government, there’s a small difference in prices between local and Tamil Nadu vendors, and they’re working on fixing that. In the meantime, they’re using milk tankers that aren’t being used to supply water. Sounds quite creative. Isn’t it? They’ve also ordered all drinking water centers that weren’t functioning to start working.

Now, here’s the scoop on private water tankers- they’re charging anywhere from ₹500 to ₹2000 per tanker. But guess what? The government is stepping in. They’re going to have a chat with the tanker association and set a fair price for everyone.

And that’s not all! The government is setting up helplines through BBMP and grievance centers in each ward to handle any complaints about water shortages in the city. So, if you’re ever in need of water or have any issues, help is just a call away!

(B.4) War Room

Guess what? The Karnataka Government is setting up a special place called a “war room” to keep an eye on the water situation in real time. And get this- the Deputy Chief Minister himself, along with some top officials, will be checking in on it every single day. It’s like they’re on a mission to stay on top of things and make sure everything runs smoothly.

Oh, and here’s some more good news- Chief Minister Siddaramaiah recently kicked off the Vrishabhavati Lift Irrigation Project in Nelamangala Assembly Constituency on March 4th. He’s pretty optimistic about it too. Siddaramaiah thinks this project will be the ultimate solution to Bengaluru City’s water problems, as well as those in the surrounding rural areas and the Tumkur districts.

It’s like they’re laying the groundwork for a water revolution! Let’s hope to get some positive results through these projects…

(B.5) Potable Water Management

So, it looks like the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike have their hands full trying to make sure everyone in the city has enough water. A BWSSB official even said things are pretty serious because the Krishnaraja Sagar Dam, which supplies Cauvery water to Bangalore, doesn’t have as much water as it should due to the summer season.

Let’s briefly look at the Potable water management to tackle Bangalore’s water crisis-

IssueAction Taken
Water Usage RestrictionsBWSSB issued an order on March 7, using sections 33 and 34 of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Act 1964, to prohibit the use of drinking water for non-essential purposes such as cleaning vehicles, construction, and decorations like fountains.
Malls and Cinema HallsOnly permitted to use water for drinking purposes.
Penalties for ViolationsFirst-time offenders face a fine of Rs.5,000. Recurring violations result in a fine of Rs.5,000 plus an additional penalty of Rs.500 per day.
Reporting ViolationsThe public is encouraged to report violations to the BWSSB’s call center at 1916.
Potable Water Management

Let me repeat the caution here- if anyone breaks these rules, they’re in for a fine. The first time you get caught, it’s a Rs.5,000 fine. But if you keep doing it, that fine jumps to Rs.5,000 plus an extra Rs.500 for each day you keep breaking the rules. So stay vigilant and let’s all do our part to keep Bangalore’s water supply in check!

(B.6) Task Forces

The task forces in each taluk are on a mission to ensure that people have access to drinking water, fodder for their cattle, and employment opportunities. Can you believe it? They’ve already held a whopping 646 meetings at the taluk level! And that’s not all—across the state, the drought management authorities have been hard at work too, with a total of 307 meetings so far.

Let me summarize it for you-

AspectsDetails
Taluk Task Forces Task forces operating at the taluk level are ensuring drinking water, cattle fodder, and employment opportunities.
Taluk-Level Meetings 646 meetings have been conducted at the taluk level by these task forces. 
Drought Management Authorities20 authorities in the state have held a total of 307 meetings.  
Drinking Water CrisisApproximately 412 Panchayats in 98 taluks are facing a drinking water crisis.
Water Tanker Deployment204 water tankers are supplying water to 175 villages.
Private Borewells Usage596 private borewells are being utilized to supply water in 500 Gram Panchayats.  
Task Forces to tackle Bangalore’s Water Crisis

And guess what? Even in bustling Bengaluru, they’re not immune to the water woes. They’ve got 120 municipal tankers and 232 water board tankers hitting the streets to make sure everyone has enough water to go around. It’s all hands on deck to tackle this crisis head-on!

(B.7) Local Administration acquiring private borewells

Siddaramaiah has some plans in motion to tackle the water situation. He mentioned that the local administration will be stepping in to manage those private borewells. They’re going to work out agreements with the owners and compensate them fairly for the water they provide.

But wait, there’s more! They’re not just relying on existing borewells; they’re also drilling new ones. With a cool Rs.70 crore released for the job, they’re getting permission from Deputy Commissioners and zilla panchayat chief executive officers to get the job done.

And get this- they’re not forgetting about the farmers either. They’ve already dished out an instant relief amount of Rs.2,000 to each of the 33.25 lakh farmers in need. It’s a big move that’s cost the State government a hefty sum of Rs.631 crore, but it’s all in the name of helping out those who need it most!

(C) Wrapping Up Bangalore’s Water Crisis

In a nutshell, the resolution of Bangalore’s water crisis hinges upon collaborative efforts from all stakeholders, including governmental bodies, local communities, and individuals like yourself. 

While short-term measures like drilling new borewells and imposing regulations offer immediate relief, sustainable solutions are needed for lasting change. Karnataka must prioritize water conservation, explore alternative water sources, and implement efficient management strategies are essential steps forward. 

By raising awareness, adopting responsible water practices, and advocating for supportive policies, you play a pivotal role in addressing this critical issue. Together, we can pave the way towards a more resilient and water-secure future for Bangalore!

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Published By: Supti Nandi
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