Namma Bengaluru’s experience with increased water scarcity is a problem that is consistently getting worse with every passing year. While many would blame climate change for the current crises, many citizens like myself would say that the lack of proper statutory planning on part of the State Government and its parastatal agencies. The State Government’s inclusion of 110 villages into the BBMP in 2007 catered solely to benefit the real estate lobby but made no attempt assess the impact this would have on our limited resources is one of the main reasons for our current situation.
The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) recent decision to dismiss requests for new borewells in the core areas of the city as a means to conserve water highlights the precarious situation facing our city and its citizens. But sadly, orders prohibiting the drilling of borewells alone is not enough to protect our water resources, the BWSSB and State Government must ensure that its officials have the will and man-power to implement its orders. On December 3, 2012, the government of Karnataka passed a notification making registration of borewells compulsory across Bengaluru under the Karnataka Groundwater Act, 2011 and mandated the BWSSB to implement the same. Unfortunately, the BWSSB and the Government have done little to create awareness among the public about the order and has registered barely 100 households with borewells.
The negligent and apathetic BWSSB is neither aware of the total number of borewells in the city nor does it have the power to rise in illegal borewells. This negligence alone is the main reason behind the growing influence of the water tanker mafia, who are primarily responsible for digging illegal borewells not only on private property but also government land and lake beds.
While exploitation of ground-water has been a pressing concern in Namma Bengaluru, both citizens and authorities must understand that Bengaluru’s ground water table is dependent on the preservation of our lakes and waterbodies. Encroachment pollution of our waterbodies also is not only reducing our water table but also contaminating it. Current rate of extraction of groundwater has prompted Niti Aayog to report that Bengaluru will run out of water by 2020. These glaring facts unfortunately has not prompted our authorities to act leaving our citizens with an uncertain future. The Government and authorities must devise ways for water augmentation through water recycling and judicious use of existing water. It must end the reign of water mafia in Bengaluru and install percolation pits on public property to recharge ground water.
The author is director, Mamma Bengaluru Foundation....