Thursday 5 September 2013

Bangalore wastes twice the water Mysore consumes every day

Ever since its founding, Bangalore has always had to face water shortage. But the first recorded water shortage was sometime in the 1870s when several tanks were dug and the Hesarghatta reservoir was commissioned.
Yet, even almost one hundred and fifty years after the first water scarcity, Bangalore has never been able to quench the thirst of its citizens. Today, we have four stages of Cauvery, TG Halli and ground water.
All the water sources put together have not been able to meet the demands of the people. What makes the water situation worse is that 50.9 per cent of the City’s drinking water is allowed to go waste. This may sound incredulous but this is a fact and it has been validated by none other than the Union Ministry of Urban Development.
The Union Ministry, in a nation wide survey of twenty eight cities, ranked Delhi as the city wasting the maximum quantity of water. Delhi was followed by Bangalore and then Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.
If Delhi wasted a little over 52 per cent of the water supplied to it, Bangalore with no major source of drinking water nearby, was equally generous-wasting 50.9 per cent  of the water supplied.    
The rest of the cities wasted anything between 13 per cent to 50 per cent and even among the 28 cities, the mega cities of Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkota, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad took the honors, outdoing other cities and leading in the wastage race by a huge margin.
A bigger metropolis like Mumbai was estimated to waste a little over 13 per cent. Chennai was seventeen percent and both these cities have oceans adjacent to them, while Bangalore has no such luxury.  
The study also says that only 50.8 per cent of Bangalore’s population has access to piped water supply. The rest depend on unorganised water supply sources like open wells and bore wells.
The wasted water, which can be classified as non-revenue water, is fed into the system and it does not reach the consumer. The reasons are many: pilferage, leak in pipes, theft, illegal diversion and even non-metering.
The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), which manages Bangalore’s water supply, has managed to meter  97 per cent households it supplies water too. However, it has not bee as successful in reducing wastage.
Bangalore gets 900 million litres of water per day (MLD) against a demand of 1,125 MLD. In addition to this, the BWSSB is gearing itself up to provide 45,000 new water connections. This doubles the pressure on water supply and the BWSSB has been struggling to meet the demand for water.
Last year, the water scarcity reached such proportions that this May, the BWSSB had to switch off its pumps for the first time in 30 years.
Former Additional Chief Secretary V Balasubramanian has gone on record saying that Bangalore needs Rs 26,000 crores to purify its water. Of this, Rs 5,000 crores is required to re-acquire encroached lakes, while at least Rs 10,000 crores in urgently wanted for developing  850 km of stormwater drain (rajakaluve) and Rs 2,750 crores for sewage treatment plants.
The BWSSB, however, has its own figures. It says it supplies close to 1,100 MLD to Bangalore  everyday and loses 396 MLD in transmission and distribution — with a loss percentage of 36 per cent.
Very few people know that the water loss between Cauvery and bulk storage reservoirs in Bangalore account for less than 3 per cent. The water treatment plant at TK Halli from where Cauvery is pumped to Bangalore is situated 400 metres below Bangalore. The distance between TK Halli and Bangalore is about 94 km. Therefore, water is pumped to Bangalore through three stages of pumping-TK Halli pumping station, Harohalli  and Thataguni.
From Tataguni, water is pumped to 55 ground level reservoirs and from them to the consumers.   
The leak till the ground level reservoir is less than three per cent. The bulk of the loss of water has been traced to the distribution system of over 5000 kms of pipeline, which is old. Other reasons are theft, water supply to 500 odd slums and in other cases unmetered connections.
Consider another fact. Mysore consumes 180 MLD of water every day and Bangalore loses twice the quantity every day.
A project to curb these losses to 16 per cent is expected to finish only by 2015. This project is being taken up in six Assembly constituencies of Basavanagudi, Chamarajpet, Padmanabhanagar, Jayanagar, BTM Layout and Bangalore South to get data on unaccounted water. The project would be completed in 18 months.
Other measures by the water board which include compulsory registration of borewells and compulsory rainwater harvesting have met with limited success.

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