June 9th, 2017
Bengaluru is the first city in India which has physically run out of water and relies on borewells and private tankers for its water needs.
To cope with the acute crisis, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB) had instructed all buildings constructed in 30X40 ft and above dimension sites to adopt rainwater harvesting (RWH). The rule applies to properties built in the year 2009 or earlier.
However, data shows the compliance rate to be 51.7% only.
As reported by The Hindu, of the 1,39,049 properties that are supposed to harvest rainwater as per the BWSSB guidelines, just over 72,000 properties have complied.
In 2010, the board threatened to disconnect water supply to properties that have not complied with the mandate.
Last year, an incremental penalty on erring property owners (domestic connections) to the amount of 25% of the water bill for the first three months was announced. From the fourth month, the penalty doubles. For commercial connections, a fine of 50% of the bill for the first three months, then 100% till RWH is implemented, was imposed.
As the board faced stiff opposition on its decision to disconnect water supply for non-compliance, it has been collecting fines to encourage people to adopt rainwater harvesting since July 2016. Till May 2017, the board has collected Rs 7.69 crore as penalty from 11,288 properties.
Though RHW might have increased in the last year, the gap in implementation is still large.
The BWSSB, in its website, states, “Since there have been drought conditions prevailing in Cauvery Basin which have resulted in minimal flow into the reservoirs in the month of August & September, enough Cauvery Water may not be available in the coming months.”
Despite this, the city is willing to pay fines rather than implementing a mandatory rule.
Bengaluru is unable to align its water needs with its population growth
In the last two decades, Bengaluru has been experiencing an unprecedented growth in the field of industrial, commercial and institutional sectors. This phenomenal growth has resulted in unplanned urban activities in the city, and an increase in population and construction activities. As per the census, the population of Bengaluru was 4.08 million in 1991, 5.8 million in 2001 and has increased to 8.5 million in 2011. This rapid growth in population is posing tremendous pressure on the infrastructure of the city, especially on water supply and underground drainage system.
The population of India’s Silicon Valley is expected to rise to more than 10 million in the next 10 years and the BWSSB has projected that the demand and supply of water will hardly be met.
It’s time Bengaluru steps up
A lot of the water supplied to Bengaluru homes comes from private water tankers that draw water out from borewells.
Borewells are dug deep into the Earth – sometimes at depths of more than a thousand feet to extract the ground water.
Earlier, the borewells were dug at a feet of 300 feet, which gradually kept on increasing.
If the city keeps going at this rate, it will soon run out of the groundwater it so heavily depends upon.
More importantly, Bengaluru doesn’t even have a backup – the city’s traditional water sources are either drying up or are contaminated.
Therefore, it becomes crucial for the residents to step up and take initiatives to harvest rainwater at private properties to help revive the depleted ground water.
The Logical Indian urges the people of Bengaluru to not that this issue lightly. It’s a fact known to all that we cannot survive without water. It is our request to the city’s residents to implement rainwater harvesting at homes and reduce the burden on groundwater. We also urge the state government and the BWSSB for more efficient enforcement of rule to decrease the gap in demand and supply of water.
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