Monday, March 17, 2008

Deccan Herald - Basic amenities missing

Deccan Herald - Basic amenities missing: "Did you know that the erstwhile Bommanahalli City Municipal Council (CMC), a cluster of villages located in between Sarjapur Road and Kanakpura Road, had won the best CMC Award in Karnataka in 1996-97 for its best public service?

But this `fame’ ceased to continue much before the CMC along with 33 villages were subsumed into the erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) limits to form a new zone called Bommanahalli. Mostly occupied by major industries and IT companies, this zone is close to Narayana Hrudayalaya, one of the well-known heart hospitals in the City and is home to a major chunk of the Electronics City.

In fact, the Bommanahalli CMC alone catalysed the need for merger of the CMCs into BMP limits, especially after 2005’s deluge that exposed the pathetic condition of roads, drains and water supply.

Residents lament that the merger has not made any difference in terms of better amenities. While land prices have drastically gone up in the last few years, it is a literal struggle by residents for basic amenities.

Drinking water is a scarce commodity in most areas of the zone, especially in Hongasandra, Chikkanahalli, Billekahlli, Garvebhavipalya, Vajpayeenagar and Shanthi Layout. The authorities supply water once in four days and this sometimes stretches even to once a week.

According to S Lakshman Kumar and Lingaraju of the Bommanahalli Nagarika Hitarakshana Vedike, the erstwhile Bommanahalli City Municipal Council (CMC) used to provide water to the residents through borewells it had dug. “But indiscriminate drilling of borewells by private water suppliers reduced the availability in the CMC's borewells. Many private water suppliers have drilled borewells up to 1,000 feet while most CMC borewells are about 300 to 500 feet deep,” he said.

That apart, the residents are also deprived of proper sanitation. Unplanned and haphazard growth and unauthorised constructions have resulted in encroachment and clogging of the ‘rajakaluves’ (the main canals). This causes a deluge in the area even after a drizzle and people have been put to great hardship.

Several areas, especially Puttenahalli, HSR and Pai Layouts and most roads in the area are the worst affected every monsoon. The entire Hosur Road was immersed in water disconnecting the IT belt from the City last year.
This had forced the BBMP authorities to take up a major encroachment removal drive in Puttenahalli. Portions of several houses that had encroached upon the drains were removed amidst stiff opposition from residents.

With a booming construction activity in the zone, BBMP officials hope to bring all properties in the tax net. With just 27,000 properties being assessed for tax so far, the civic body has started digital mapping of all properties in the zone using the Geographical Information System (GIS).

“We have managed to collect Rs 24 crore as property tax in the last one year. With a target of Rs 55 crore for the coming year, we hope to mobilise more funds for developing infrastructure in the area,” a jurisdictional BBMP official said.

More borewells were being drilled to ensure regular water supply. Work on providing Cauvery water to the area is under progress as part of the Greater Bangalore Water Supply and Sanitation Project (GBWASP), the official added."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Freeloaders wring BWSSB dry of revenue-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

Freeloaders wring BWSSB dry of revenue-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India: "he Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) does not have a clue about what happens to 315 million litres of water per day pumped from a distance of 98 km. For, 35% of the 900 MLD water being brought in to Bangalore is unaccounted for.

What’s worse, unauthorized water connections are increasing by the day and the board loses a minimum of Rs 42 lakh every month as a result.

With summer round the bend, the city is likely to grapple with a shortage of drinking water as pilferage and water leaks continue unabated. But BWSSB seems to be oblivious to these problems.

BWSSB supplies 900 MLD water to 5.2 lakh households in Bangalore, which earns it a revenue of nearly Rs 35 crore every month. However, 35% of the water supplied is unaccounted for, with over 35,000 households enjoying free water.

BWSSB officials said slums in the city have unauthorized water connections — there are 400 notified slums where 20% of the population resides. The main offenders are slums at Pillanna Garden, DJ Halli, Ejipura and Neelasandra.

The minimum slab of water bill is Rs 120 per month in the domestic sector, while the maximum slab is Rs 800. Thus, the loss incurred could be anywhere between Rs 42 lakh and Rs 2.8 crore per month.

“Of the 35% of unaccounted for water, 8-12% is due to unauthorized connections. The board has been trying to regularize water connections for many years, but with little success,’’ said officials. Since 1993 till date, around 50,000 connections have been regularized.

Now, slum-dwellers cannot get away with unauthorized water connections. From March 1, BWSSB has been sending circulars to all slum in Bangalore, which have metered water supply. “We’re giving consumers time till April 30 to regularize their connections.

If they don’t do the same within the stipulated time, a penalty of Rs 10,000 will be levied, apart from a six-month jail term,’’ officials added.

As per the Board Act, pilferaging can lead to both penalty and imprisonment or just penalty or imprisonment depending on the nature of the case.

Connection charges can be paid in two instalments. You can apply for connections by enclosing hakku patras issued by the BDA, slum clearance board and BBMP, along with any proof of residence, like ration card, election identity card, identity card issued by the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board along with the application.

Like every year, this summer too won’t be different, for BWSSB will face trouble in getting water pumped up to Bangalore from three stations — T K Halli, Harohalli and Tatguni. 910 MLD water is supplied every alternate day. But, come April, BWSSB too will be affected if there is a power problem. About 50 cycles of power is required every second, for water to be pumped properly. “Even if it comes down by a couple of cycles, then water will not get lifted. As a result, only about 700 MLD or 800 MLD water will reach Bangalore,’’ said another official.

Despite BWSSB having requested KPTC to rectify this problem during summer, it hasn’t been taken into consideration. Bangalore will also face double the shortage, if Bescom fails to supply power. ‘Lack of power supply in the city will hinder easy transfer of water from a ground-level reservoir to the other. It will become difficult to lift water during power crisis,’’ added the official.

However, severely affected areas will be supplied with water through tankers. This problem persists till mid-May."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A million litres of water daily to airport The Hindu : Front Page

The Hindu : Front Page : A million litres of water daily to airport: "While a cloud of uncertainty hangs over several issues concerning the international airport at Devanahalli — road connectivity and the date of the airport’s opening, for example — there is one critical requirement that appears to be on track: round-the-clock potable water supply.

Transporting water 22 km away is no mean feat and the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is confident of achieving that. The board is due to sign an agreement with Bangalore International Airport Ltd., to provide one million litres of potable water to the airport every day when it starts functioning.

Although this falls sorely short of nine million litres that the BIAL asked for three years ago, it is nevertheless a major commitment for a public utility that must first serve the water needs of Bangalore’s residents.

Thus, the water supply to the airport, which is located in Bangalore Rural district, will be contingent on whether the board receives adequate water from its river source. “In case we cannot pump water from Cauvery for some reason, then we will not be able to provide water to the airport.

There is no penalty for this in the agreement,” Latha Krishna Rao, BWSSB chairperson, told The Hindu.

All agreements that the BWSSB enters into with industries are subject to water availability and pressure. “We will not make an exception in the case of BIAL,” Ms. Rao said.

For the BIAL, water from BWSSB is critical as there is a blanket ban that the Mines and Geology Department has imposed in the area on drilling borewells for groundwater.

“As the groundwater in the area has been classified as overexploited, no borewells can be drilled for any purpose, be it industrial or agricultural,” said N. Chandranna, senior geologist at the Mines and Geology Department.

The water is crucial in that it can service the hotels and other passenger facilities on the BIAL campus.

Hotels outside the campus are facing problems with regular water supply as the area falls outside the jurisdiction of the BWSSB. For every kilolitre the BWSSB provides, it will charge the BIAL Rs. 66, which is 10 per cent more than the commercial rates.

This is in addition to the Rs. 1,20,000 that the BIAL will have to pay the water board every month as infrastructure maintenance charge.

While insisting that water supply to BIAL will not affect supply to the northern or western parts of Bangalore, Ms. Rao said water would be supplied to BIAL from the 100 million litres of additional water that is being drawn from the Cauvery to cater to the 72 newly added wards in the city.

The water is being supplied through a 22-km pipeline that the BWSSB laid from Hegganahalli near Nagarbhavi to the airport campus.

The water will have to be additionally pumped at Hegganahalli and from the reservoir on the University of Agricultural Sciences campus. "