Posted On Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 05:50:38 AM
With summer here, the clamour for water is growing louder and MLAs want the government to start drilling borewells quickly. Environmentalists, however, say that's not the best solution to the city's water problem.
N L Narendra Babu, MLA from Mahalakshmi Layout, blames the government for the crisis. "I have been getting complaints since January. But instead of providing facilities for the existing city, the government is busy creating more and more layouts."
B N Vijaykumar, MLA from Jayanagar constituency, said, “Within core Bangalore, there is no need for borewells as we meet the demand through tap and pipeline connections. However, borewells are inevitable on the outskirts."
Stop. Wake up
Borewells, however, are only a quick-fix solution, says environmentalist Sheshadri Ramaswamy of Hasiru Usiru. “Already, the underground level is receding beyond imagination. The injudicious use of underground water all these days has brought us to this situation. We need to wake up at least now and understand the reality. If you go on extracting underground water by digging more borewells, it will lead to a worse scenario," he said.
That is what's happening. The more borewells the government plans, the deeper it needs to dig. Already, the water table in Basavanagudi and Jayanagar areas has the least depth — between 400 ft and 600 ft. The depth in most other areas is not encouraging either.
“Out of every 10 borewells dug, two or three will be duds," says C V Raman Nagar MLA S Raghu. "With time, the remaining also turn dry," he said.
Muniraju, MLA from Dasarahalli constituency, agrees. "We have more than 300 borewells but of them, around 110-120 measuring 800-900 ft are running dry already".
Every time a borewell dries up, nearly Rs 2.5 lakh goes down the drain. “The complete cost of a borewell is close to Rs 2.5 lakh. A total of Rs 60,000 to Rs 75,000 is spent on just drilling and Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 is spent on casing pipes and the motor and the rest is spent on getting power connection or to lay an extra power cable and pipeline work,” explains Muniraju.
As a result, most MLAs are cautious about the drilling and use of borewells. "I'd rather initiate a survey and then submit a proposal on the requirement of borewells,” says B N Vijaykumar in whose constituency (Jayanagar) the underground water level has gone below 600 feet.
There are other ways to ensure that borewells are used judiciously. “We entrust prominent people in the locality with the responsibility of monitoring the borewells and their use," says Basavanagudi MLA L A Ravisubramanya while Raghu says the only option is to recharge the borewells when it rains.
Apart from rainwater harvesting,desilting reservoirs and tanks to increase storage capacity could be a smarter alternative to borewells. But this is a long-term measure and will not be of much use this summer.
“Had Hesarghatta Lake been rejuvenated, it would have solved our problems. But now, there is no other alternative but to go for borewells," says S Muniraju, MLA from Dasarahalli constituency where a part of the Arkavathi river basin falls.
Meanwhile, the clamour for borewells grows louder.
High and low
Shettar promises funds
The acute shortage of potable water across the state paved way for a heated debate in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday. SeveralMLAs, irrespective of the region, demanded speedy action from the government in solving the problem.
Responding to the demands, Rural Developmental and Panchayat Raj Minister Jagadish Shettar said, “The problem has come to the notice of the government and steps will be taken soon to drill enough borewells and supply drinking water.
Within a week, funds will be released to the task force on potable water for taking adequate steps to mitigate the problem.”