"No Water Crisis In Bengaluru": DK Shivakumar. "Irresponsible," BJP Fumes

Bengaluru authorities have announced fines for misuse or wastage of drinking water, by using it for washing vehicles, in construction activities, or at cinema halls and shopping malls.


There is "no water crisis" in Bengaluru, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar said Thursday, even as he flagged off auto-rickshaws laden with hoardings to spread awareness about water conservation ahead of what is expected to be a very hot summer.

Bengaluru has been battling a frightening water shortage over the past weeks.

The city has a population of around 1.3 crore people and needs between 2,600 and 2,800 MLD, or million litres per day. At present, however, there is a shortfall of more than 1,500 MLD. And it isn't just the state capital; nearly 240 taluks have been declared as 'drought-hit'.

Mr Shivakumar, whose government has said it is working to address the shortfall and ensure equitable and reasonably priced access for all, today insisted the problem isn't as bad now.

"As far as Bengaluru goes, there is no water crisis. Around 7,000 bore-wells have dried up but we have made arrangements for all that. We have taken over tankers. We have identified the water sources... we will see that water is supplied," he told reporters.

Mr Shivakumar's statement, however, has not gone down well with the opposition BJP. 

The party's state unit chief, BY Vijayendra, has hit out at the ruling Congress.

"Being a Deputy Chief Minister, a responsible Minister, is it not his responsibility to address the water issue for the entire state? It is a totally unfortunate attitude..." he said.

NDTV, meanwhile, spoke to a few students from the city, who also seemed to disagree, and pointed out that even if there is no "crisis" today, there will be one when summer peaks.

One student, from Bengaluru's Banaswadi area, said people there have been facing an acute problem for the past week. "We relied on water tankers and that was expensive... Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 per tanker. This is completely unaffordable for normal families," he said.

A second said that while there may not be a "large-scale crisis" today, "... government should intervene, because next month will be hotter and water needs will increase."

He also had a sharp message to the Congress and the BJP, who have predictably jumped to blame games. "Politics should be out of water supply. When there is a water crisis, then politicians should work together instead of criticising," he said.

All of this comes days after city authorities announced fines for misuse or wastage of drinking water. Residents were warned against using potable water for washing vehicles, in construction activities, or at cinema halls and shopping malls, except for drinking purposes.

READ | Stop Misusing Drinking Water In Bengaluru Or Pay Rs 5,000

A penalty of Rs 5,000 will be imposed on first-time violators and repeat offenders will be fined an extra Rs 500 each time, the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board said.

Bengaluru residents - whose days now revolve around worrying about depleting water levels at home and arranging for the next tanker - have welcomed the imposition of fines, but stressed that the final problem is still the lack of any water supply.

"I think these fines are necessary... because there are people who waste water still. But, in the end, we need water. If water is there, then fines can be issued. If water is not there, then what is the use of fines?" Sibi Verghese, a resident of Bengaluru's Babusapalya, told NDTV.

READ | 'Don't Work-From-Home, Go Home': Water Crisis In Bengaluru

Meanwhile, Bengaluru, being India's 'Silicon City', has also rolled out mobile phone apps to help deal with this crisis. These are Jala Mitra (for citizens, retired technical staff, and NGOs willing to volunteer for water leakage, survey and conservation measures) and Parisara Jalasnehi (which reserves supply of reused water for treated purposes other than drinking).

Then there is Antharajala, which allows citizens to apply for permission to dig bore-wells, and Samrakshaka, in which those wasting drinking water can be red-flagged to authorities.

It isn't just homes that have been affected.

The crisis has hit hospitals too. Brookfield Hospital near Whitefield, one of the city's poshest neighbourhoods and worst-affected, depends on water tankers and needs 24,000 litres every three days; this is apart from 5,000 litres needed daily for dialysis patients.

Dr Pradeep Kumar, a medical officer in the hospital, told NDTV, "We are recycling water and using it, with regular water, for washing and cleaning."

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