Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another shot at saving water -Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

Another shot at saving water -Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
Come November, rainwater harvesting will be mandatory in new constructions on sites 30 ft x 40 ft and larger if the proposed amendment
to the BWSSB Act is passed. Soon, all BWSSB offices, Lalbagh and Cubbon Park will have rain harvesting systems and there will be one theme park at Jayanagar 5th Block on rainwater harvesting . Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa will initiate the project in November first week.

Minister in-charge of water supply board development Katta Subramanya Naidu told reporters on Monday that Rs 10 crore has been earmarked for rainwater harvesting in the budget. He said it is imperative that conservation of water be given top priority. "We'll take all measures for this," he added. If this water conservation system succeeds in the city, then it will also be successful anywhere.

Naidu, who visited Jayanagar, said the area has several damaged water supply lines. The BWSSB has reviewed the situation and will replace old pipelines in next two years in a phased manner. Tenders have been called to replace 12 km of pipelines.

The lakes under BBMP, BDA and BMRDA areas will be developed and utilized by the BWSSB. There are around 278 lakes over 40 hectares, 406 lakes less than 40 hectares and around 144 lakes under the forest department. All these will be developed and be turned into tourist spots. Tenders have been floated for 29 lakes.

Grievance meets
In an effort to improve services, BWSSB engineers will hear grievances from the public on all working days from 8 am to 1 pm from Wednesday. Naidu said all official work could be done between 2 and 5 pm.

This meet will be organized in all BWSSB offices. The chief engineer and the executive engineers will supervise the schedule.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Municipal bond mkt in need of support in India

Moneycontrol >> News >> Business >> Municipal bond mkt in need of support in India
There have been 14 issues of municipal bonds by 12 cities and towns and two states infrastructure and financial entities for Rs 1,550 crore. Advocates for municipal bond say, this is a market that needs support. They cite the example of United States where this is an instrument of choice for urban asset creation. But the market in India is quite dead; the municipalities that participated in earlier bond issues are rather indifferent and tax free bonds have no takers.

Ahmedabad Municipal Bond was the first municipal bond that was issued in India. At the beginning of this year it observed its tenth anniversary. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation issued the bonds in January 1998 for Rs 100 crore to part finance, it's nearly Rs 5 crore water and sanitation programme. A quarter of the bonds were offered to the public who oversubscribed even though there was no explicit state government guarantee on repayments.

Utpal Padia, Deputy Commissioner, Ahmedabad was involved in that issue. He said, “Our bond was escort with certain income so we require income from that particular amount and fiscal discipline has to be observed.”

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has accumulated Rs 35 crore in cash losses by 1993-94. There is nothing like debt and debt to focus the mind they say. What is true of individuals is true also of Municipal Corporation. So during the next three years, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation went about repairing its finances in preparation for bond issue with technical assistance from USA. It improved property tax and octroi collections, introduced computerised double-entry accounting, recruited MBAs to upgrade financial management, developed a five year infrastructure programme and got its credit worthiness rated by Crisil.

By March 1999, the corporation had a cash surplus of Rs 21 crore. Nabaroon Bhattacharjee who was than with USA, financing infrastructure with bonds into play a different setup attitude than paying for it with grants from Central or State government or own money.

Nabaroon Bhattacharjee, Water & Sanitation Programme, World Bank said, “There are number of projects prepared which are on the traditional way of typical looking at CPW, the schedule of rates, doing a technical estimation and preparing a budget and that’s what goes into a project proposal. But when you have to access the market project, it has to be structured which is financially viable, which also looks at the risk profile and also looks at debt servicing.”

The taxable seven year bond with an interest rate of 14% was listed on Ahmedabad and National Stock Exchange to reassure lenders a charge that was created on a bank account in which collections from ten octroi post were deposited. Since then the corporation has raised Rs 458 crore through four bond issues and repaid a little more than half the amount raised. Fifth issue for Rs 150 crore is on hold now because of difficult market conditions. But Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner also has a word of caution. Tapping the market also has its downside, he says with the borrowed money it is not investments in projects that pay for themselves.

IP Gautam, Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad said, “If you are going to the market then all fund raised from the market as a debt is shown as a payment due and due to that particular phenomena. When rating agency will come they will try to downgrade.”

Alandur is a municipality 20 sq. m in size close to Chennai airport. At the beginning of this decade, it was home to 1.5 lakh people. Its proximity to Chennai had brought in a lot of migrants but they did not have the amenities of a modern city. Sai Bharati’s four times Chairman recalls the difficulty he had in installing this Rs 34 crore sewage treatment plant and the underground system to drain waste water from houses. It was tough going initially getting each household to contribute. Sai Bharati remembers holding a number of roadside meetings and advertising that has contributed as an example for the others who are holding out. In all he was able to get 11,000 household to 5000 each to part finance the project, Rs 5000 was a lot of money in the year 2000.

R Sai Bharati, Chairman, Alandur Municipal Council said, “They are ready to pay if you do something to the people. They want the transparency to be maintained and should have confidence in the institution that is the municipality. The previous municipality gave them the initiative to take part in this scheme and we didn’t have any difficulty in collecting Rs 5 crore from the public within a span of three months.”

Two years later in 2002, Alandur participated in another financial innovation. The country’s fist Pooled Bond to augment water supply; Alandur was not alone 11 other municipalities are joining Chennai associated with it, Madurai also joined in to raise money for its underground drainage project. Krishnaswamy Rajivan was the Managing Director of Tamil Nadu Urban Development Fund at that time. He recalls the excitement of playing midwife to the issue.

Krishnaswamy Rajivan, Former Managing Director, TN Urban Development Fund said, “Once the bond issue was subscribed to the huge sense of small and medium municipality sense of ownership.”

The traditional has a visual appeal that the modern does not have and that can be said of Pooled Finance Bond that TNUDF issued in the year 2002. By this time the technology had caught on and the bond were issued in digital and demat form which is why you cannot see them on your screens. They were of Rs 50 crore and of 15 years duration, they offered a taxable interest rate of 9.2% and use to retire debt contracted by the municipalities at 12%. Banks in India do no invest long-tem. Vikram Kapur currently Members Secretary of Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority explains why TNUDF had to step in to bridge the duration gap.

Vikram Kapur, Members Secretary, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority said, “Most investors are averse to long-term paper unless they are pension funds or insurance agencies which are looking at long-term returns. But for short-term investors like banks or high net worth individuals this issue will always remain. It is for this reason there is a necessity to have an intermediary like Tamil Nadu Urban Development Fund which can in a way counter guarantee such kind of loans and guarantee that repayments will take place while at the same time they are willing to take the construction risk of such projects.”

To improve the market, bonds investors were allowed to redeem them five years before expiry. They were reassured with a charge on property and another tax collection of participating municipality and these were deposited in a bank account. Another comfort was provided by state government grant of nearly Rs 7 crore that was invested in low risk securities. USAID (United States Agency for International Development) guaranteed repayment of half the principal amount while the Tamil Nadu government undertook to makeup any default in the repayment of interest and the remaining principal from municipal grants

Rajivan said, “First, fiscal reforms, second, administrative reforms so that the Mayor could actually settle a contract don’t have to roam in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai to get a contract in place and third, raise user charges for the people. So, these 74th type of reforms empower somebody so that the power and responsibility are in the same place and there is some accountability to the citizens without that none of this is possible.”

Urban infrastructure cannot be financed only with public money; the government has tried to attract private funds. It has offered what is called viability gap funding to improve profitability of projects or public goods that don’t pay for themselves. Municipal bonds also have got the Finance Ministry’s support.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, “In order to facilitate the creation of urban infrastructure, I propose to allow the issue of tax free bonds through state tooled finance entities formed for raising funds for a group of urban local bodies.”

Advocates of municipal bonds like Nabaroon Bhattacharjee see this as an acknowledgement that the municipal bond market has come of age while admitting that at less than 1% of the corporate bond market, they have a long way to go. Compared to the US where they have been in existence for the past 120 years and are a prime source of urban infrastructure finance.

Bhattacharjee said, “What has been proved is that it is these 14 bond issues that have happened and it is conceptually sound there. It is operationally successful, which has been demonstrated. What it needs is a strategy for scaling it up.”

Curiously, the enthusiasm is not shared by municipal leaders like R Sai Bharati who should have proposed more projects to be financed by municipal bonds after the success of the first issue. But they would rather borrow from banks or raise money from the public. Municipal bonds are a matter between an issuing agency like TNUDF (Tamil Nadu Urban Development Fund) and a project implementing entity like Metro Water.

Sai Bharati said, “This was done entirely by TNUDF. Since there were 13 local bodies involved, there should be a common organisation to take care of it. That was done by TNUDF.”

It is not just the smaller municipality even investors have turned distinctly cold to municipal bonds. Earlier this year after a gap of six years, TNUDF made a second issue of pooled bonds worth Rs 45 crore on behalf of six municipalities to finance water supply and underground sewerage projects.These were tax-free bonds carrying an interest of 7.25% repayable in five instalments after five years. But only bonds worth Rs 6 crore were subscribed. Curiously, tax is stated the very element that should have been made attractive has gone against them.

Kapur said, “One thing we have to realise is that from the investor’s point of view, at the moment, there is very little interest in municipal bonds. There is lack of awareness, first and foremost is that awareness has to be carried out.

Then there are certain structural issues. One prime issue relates to the lack of attractiveness for tax free bonds among a large sector of investors. There are certain sectors like mutual funds where the funds themselves are tax exempt entities. When it comes to banks though they are not tax exempt, but then there are certain issues related to the IT Act, which come in the way. Banks are not excited because the only difference between income earned from bonds and the cost of funds is tax deducted. To enhance their appeal, Kapur suggests that banks should be allowed to invest in municipal bonds as part of their priority sector lending obligations.

The Finance Ministry could also lift the cap of 8% on tax-free bonds, or it could allow municipalities to issue taxable bonds bearing a higher rate of interest, and a part of the interest could be subsidised with interest earned by the bond service reserve fund. This is a fund created with grant from the central and state governments to provide comfort to investors that has to be kept as an insurance against default through the life of the bonds.

Here is a verbatim transcript of the exclusive interview with Dr. KP Krishnan on CNBC-TV18. Also watch the accompanying video.

Q: Before taking up this present assignment way back in early 2005 you were Managing Director of KUIDFC-The Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation and you were instrumental in Rs 100 crore Pooled Bond issue to part finance water supply and underground drainage in eight municipalities adjoining Bangalore. What is a reason that between then and now conditions have turned adverse but there have been no subsequent issues?

A: To do that you need a large enough guarantee facility. Rs 100 crore bond issue requires a certain amount of money to give confidence to the investors that there will be a repayment. If you want Rs 1,000 crore issue the money has to be larger. So, you need to increase the amount of money available to guarantee these bonds and also make sure that the municipalities are financially sound so that in the first event they are able to make the repayments. It’s only when there is a default that the other mechanisms takeover. So, Rs 100 crore municipal bond issue that you spoke about actually was preceded by a series of measures for instance take one municipality, Byatrayanapura; we did a complete survey of properties in Byatrayanapura and you will be surprise to know that even without a Rs 1 increase in the tax rate the potential increase in property tax alone of Byatrayanapura was going to be of the order of 900%.

Q: Are you suggesting that because their finances are not in a proper shape these municipalities do not borrow at all?

A: Yes that’s one major reason. Finances need to be in good shape for the municipality to be able to borrow. In addition if you keep other softer options why would a municipality go for the harder option? Even in the case of the Karnataka Pooled Municipal Funds, the bonds the eight municipalities had to be gently persuaded and coxed because they always have the option that if you go and make enough noise and bring enough pressure on the State Government the State Government would underwrite the entire excise either by guarantee or by an outright state borrowing so therefore unless you chance the entire municipal finance framework municipalities do not have an incentive to borrow because a borrowal means repayment out of their resources. So if you give them a softer option they will not borrow.

Q: And they have a softer option now in the form of National Urban Renewal Mission grants?

A: I will not say the Urban Renewal Mission is a softer option. The Urban Renewal Mission in an Rs 800 crore project will come in for a part or the equity project. It will not make the debt part any easier other than making it easier for the municipality to borrow.

Q: If I get you right what you are saying is that because there is no hard budgetary constraint these municipalities do not borrow either in the form of bonds or even from other agencies and do not also have an incentive to improve their tax collections?

A: You are entirely right; market discipline is what a borrowing mechanism is supposed to be ensure that if you borrow Rs 100 crore from the market since you have to repay this money, since you have to service this loan you cannot afford to spend those money irresponsibly; you need to be able to collect taxes to repay. All of these are responsibilities which you will be willing to undertake only if there is pressure on you.

Q: There is no pressure on them also because they are not responsible for service quality. If they were responsible for service quality then they would have to upgrade their infrastructure and they would have to hire to find ways and means of financing that infrastructure?

A: Exactly. In American literature on public finance they talk about voting with your feet. What it effectively translates into is if you are living in a certain municipality; you don’t like the services that the municipality provides whether its school services or water supply or parks you just leave the municipality. You sell your property or the house that you are staying on; on rent you leave it and move to a neighbouring municipality because it offers better services.

Q: Coming to the demand side we find that there are no takers even for tax free bonds because mutual funds are already taxfree?

A: If you look at the original municipal bond scheme they were all written at a time when interest rates were much lower.

Q: You don’t think that the cap of 8% on tax free bonds is restricting?

A: Maybe the best way to approach that would be to not put a numerical level but prime lending rate; the PLR+ (Prime Lending Rates) kind of mechanism rather than a particular number.

Q: I was talking to the Former MD of TNUDF (Tamil Nadu Urban Development Fund) and he was saying that one of the ways in which we can create excitement or interest in the municipal bonds is to allow them to issue taxable bonds that carry a higher rate of interest and to allow them to make up for higher interest with the interest earned from the bond service fund?

A: If your project is unviable at that particular rate of interest unless you subsidise the project the bonds will not work.

Q: I thought this subsidy would be needed just to develop the municipal bond market?

A: I do not think the municipal bond market needs a subsidy as much as market development. A part of the market development could be if you take a project like underground sewage. Underground sewage all over the world fundamentally would require a subsidy. The social benefits of an underground sewage project are far higher than the financial benefits.

Q: Alternatively do you think that municipal bonds should be reserved for projects that pay for themselves?

A: I think that will be a good idea to start with to develop this market. I think it will be a good idea to start municipal bonds for projects which are financially viable.

Q: But you think that the legal and regulatory framework is all there?

A: I think the legal and regulatory framework is almost entirely in place. The regulations issued by SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) in the beginning of this year on debt instruments includes all kinds of body’s corporate namely municipality included. So in terms of the capital market regulatory framework for bonds, I do not see a problem and I think this is something which will work.

Q: So you think that the issue is more on the supply side than on the demand side?

A: I would think it’s primarily supply of municipal bonds as the bigger problem and therefore fundamentally issues of financials other kinds of restructuring of municipalities.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lake breach at lake in the city - Daily News & Analysis

DNA - Bangalore - Lake breach at lake in the city - Daily News & Analysis
A lake breach at Begur Lake has rendered homes in east Bangalore flooded. Residents of Bommanahalli constituency say that inadequate civic facility is the cause of the breach.

To add to their woes, filthy water from storm drains has also entered homes. Children have been unable to attend school and others go for work.

But BBMP Joint Commisisoner Bommanahalli Zone B S Shekharappa denies any lake breach. "No bund wall has been broken. The water entering houses is the overflowing water from the lake mixed with the water from the storm drain.

Diseases spread by rodents and mosquitoes have put the population at a health risk. Furthermore there is no provision for water supply. ``We are forced to buy water, as the ground water is highly contaminated and children are prone to illness. The bad roads and over flowing drains are making matters worse. Moreover the BBMP is digging up the main road,'' said Lakshmi Prakas, a resident of Vishwapriya Layout, located 2 kms from Begur lake.

"My three year old son accidentally fell into the dirty water and we found it very difficult to bring him out at night", cried B H Sumitra a housewife. ``My elder son is hurt and my younger son has high fever. The owner stays in Girinagar and we moved in here as tenants three months ago as my husband works in Electronic City. We are now thinking of moving."

Unlike this couple, many cannot move as they have spent their savings to build a home here. Infosys Chief mentor N R Narayanmurthy's retired driver K Anand said, ``I put in all my savings and built the house. The situation is the same since the past five years. Every year officials come and make a lot of promises that are never fulfilled.''

Shekharappa says that the urgent needs of the people are being met. ``We are providing immediate relief- food, bottled water and blankets. Rehabilitation centres and accommodation is being provided at Vidya Jyothi government school, Hongesandra government school and Lui Philip Church,'' said Shekharappa.

Shekharappa says that the flooded houses are built on unauthorised layouts in revenue pockets, which were earlier agricultural land. The civic agency has floated tenders to build, after four years of grim situation, a storm water drain. Over the years, the 33-foot storm water drain has been encroached and now it measures only eight feet. "All encroached properties will soon be cleared,'' said he.

Where is 30 pc of Bangalores water going?

Where is 30 pc of Bangalores water going?
Nearly 30 per cent of the water supplied by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) goes unaccounted for and the BWSSB is still grappling with plans to minimise such illegal use.

Nearly eight per cent of the total 870 million litres per day of water being supplied by the BWSSB leaks out of the corroded pipelines that were laid long ago and some percentage of the water is freely supplied to slums in the city.

Some of the slums are densely-populated and consume a lot of water.

The BWSSB supplies some percentage of water in about 45 tankers to areas that do not receive proper water supply.

Out of this, some water is sucked out by unauthorised and illegal connections.

An official, on condition of anonymity, said that efforts were on to bring down the amount of unaccounted for water and the BWSSB has already started replacing the old and corroded pipelines.

All the existing pipelines in Bharathinagar are being replaced at a total cost of Rs 2 crore. Further, the BWSSB is planning to replace the pipelines at Aramanenagara and Sanjayanagara at a cost of Rs 5 crore and Rs 20 crore respectively.

The BWSSB was also planning to develop Aramanenagara and Sanjaynagara as model wards in the city, he said.

The BWSSB was planning to remove public taps from areas which have metered connections to stop pilferage.

Most of the unauthorised connections which are in slums are difficult to trace. The BWSSB will be imposing heavy penalties on those who take unauthorised connections and such unauthorised connections would be metered as soon as they are traced, the officer said

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dual water pipeline proposal faces technical hitches

DNA - Bangalore - Dual water pipeline proposal faces technical hitches - Daily News & Analysis
BDA had proposed to provide recycled treated water through one pipeline and fresh Cauvery water through the other to newly developed BDA layouts and the upcoming Nadaprabhu Kempe Gowda Layout.

But now the road width and abruptly laid cables and pipelines are hindering the project.

BDA Commisisoner Siddhaiah said that surveys and meetings with Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage board (BWSSB) officials reveal that dual pipelines can be laid only where roads are at least 18 metres wide.

This proposal is limited to the newly developed BDA layouts like Jnanbharathi, Vishweswaraiah, Banashankari and Anjanapura. It will be introduced in the whole of Kempegowda Layout from the initial stage, to avoid technical problems at a later stage, he added.

BWSSB supplies 870 mld a day and is falling short of 30 per cent. Appreciating the proposal, a senior BDA official said that it would help meet the water scarcity. ``But, we are unable to execute the plan due to narrow congested roads. Primarily, it is difficult to dig the roads. Secondly, on one side sanitary lines are laid while on the other are water pipelines. Criss-crossing them is not possible in such narrow lanes is difficult.''

Residents say this streamlining (of 18 metres) means that residential and commercial establishments located on arterial and prime roads only will benefit. ``Why do we have to suffer due to the inadequate planning of the civic agencies? We are dependent on bore wells. The water quality and level is gradually depleting. If the government does not take quick action, the situation will get worse during summer,'' said M Rudrappa, a resident of Jnanbharathi Layout.

Most parts of the City, especially Banashankari, gets water once in two-three days and residents are compelled to depend on water tankers. ``Buying a water tanker once in three days is very expensive. The concept of dual pipelines gave a ray of hope. It seems that the government is favouring commercial establishments and upscale apartments located on main roads where the facility would be introduced.'' said S Shanthi a resident of Banashankari.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cities-The Times of India

City-states can be viable alternative to choked metros-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
Every city in India aspires to become a Singapore. But no one at the helm has any clue about how to realize that dream. Guess what a Singaporean,
that too former PM Lee Kuan Yew, has to say? If Mumbai, for instance, has to become an international city, like Singapore, it must be made into a separate province. China has done it. Its cities deal directly with Beijing. And it has worked.

The 85-year-old founding father of Singapore and its first PM was in Delhi the other day to attend an interactive session with Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas delegates. He said, "During my visit to Mumbai 18 months ago, I had a meeting with the Maharashtra deputy CM on how to turn the city into a Singapore. At that time I found the airport not up to international standards. The approach road was also terrible... I asked the minister, ‘Who controls Mumbai?' He said the city was under Maharashtra. I told him if Mumbai has to become a Singapore, it must become a separate province... Otherwise, there is no hope for it to grow into a financial capital on par with Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong or London.''

Opinions may vary, but there is no harm in discussing Lee's suggestion. We remember the likes of IT icon Narayana Murthy having spoken on similar lines. Such out-of-the-box ideas sometimes help in finding viable solutions.

For instance, the Maharashtra minister is said to have told Lee that the state cannot afford to lose Mumbai as a big chunk of its revenue comes from the city. He is not wrong. What if the Centre compensates the state for the loss of revenue that Mumbai generates? Isn't it food for thought? Mumbai will prosper under the Centre's special care and the state will continue to get its share of revenue.

Cities in India have been deteriorating day by day. Take IT city Bangalore. Its image has taken a severe beating in the last few years. Much of the sheen the IT sector gave the city has disappeared. Infrastructure facilities are not proportionate to the city's growth. Civic amenities are woefully inadequate. Power and drinking water supply are erratic. Sewage and storm water drains badly need a makeover. Roads are chock-a-block with traffic through the day. Crime is on the rise. Terror shadow is lengthening. Doesn't the city need special care?

Lack of political will to think differently and initiate tough measures is one of the main causes for this state of affairs. Most often, political rivalry, one-upmanship and witch-hunting derail many projects. A government run by one political outfit deliberately scraps schemes initiated by its predecessor. Some keep playing the rural vs urban card, and, in the process, act as an impediment to the progress of both these areas.

Netas and babus keep visiting cities across the globe, at the cost of the exchequer, to study measures being taken for their upkeep. One has lost track of the number of visits they have made to cities like Shanghai and Singapore. They did come back enlightened. They even promised to implement what they saw and heard. Only to be forgotten, till another such fun trip arrived.

Proactive CMs have initiated measures from time to time. They encouraged private players to lend a helping hand. Made them sit with stakeholders to find solutions. The Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) was one such initiative started during the S M Krishna regime. It did bring about a number of changes. Before it could put plans into action, Krishna's government fell. The BATF was scrapped by the next government, remote-controlled by Krishna's bete noire Deve Gowda. Now, Yeddyurappa seems to have revived BATF in a different form. ABIDe has some of the best minds working on measures to put the bang back into Bangalore. One just hopes it turns words into action.

We have no dearth of expertise. We have solutions to problems. We have go-getters who can implement them. What we lack is the will. If only our netas and babus work sincerely, our cities can match international standards.

Drops of hope-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

Drops of hope-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
As the government grapples with making rooftop water harvesting mandatory in new constructions in the city, some housing layouts are a
lready way ahead.

Rainbow Drive Layout on Sarjapur Road has put in place over 20 rooftop water-harvesting systems and 10 groundwater-recharging systems in stormwater drains since February 2008. The residents are delighted that they no more have to depend on the uncertain supply of borewell water or spend on tankers. They are ecologically storing abundant water to sustain themselves. Added to this is the incentive that their layout doesn't flood after rain, because all the water gets stored in stormwater drain recharge wells.

Committee member of the Resident Welfare Association (RWA) of Rainbow Drive Layout, Jayawanth Bharadwaj, was one of the first to take up rainwater-harvesting project. "We were completely dependent on borewell water till a year ago. When the borewell used to dry up, we would get tankers, which are very expensive. I realized there has to be a way out. That is when I started a door-to-door campaign in my layout to get people to set up rainwater harvesting systems. Some understood its importance, while some were wary of the investment. Gradually, it picked up."

The RWA has also set up 10 groundwater-recharging systems in stormwater drains in the layout. They also have a system of giving Rs 100 discount on the water bill to houses that have installed rooftop water harvesting.

According to the Rainwater Club, a group of activists working towards sustaining water, Bangalore gets around 970 mm of water every year. If this water is harvested in a 30x40 ft rooftop (average roof size), then the water generated can sustain a family of four for five to six months.

Nathan Stell, a member of Rainwater Club, points out the larger bounty from rainwater harvesting. Bangalore pumps water from the Cauvery, which is around 100 km away from the city and 500 metres below the city's elevation. The amount of energy required to pump water to the millions of households is enormous, while an important feature of rainwater harvesting is saving energy. The water supply is far less expensive than tankers, that costs about Rs 50 per kilolitre. Groundwater recharging helps replenish borewells and raises the groundwater table. He also added that the quality of rainwater from the roof is high, and can be used for all kinds of household work and even filtered for drinking.

"We have seen an increase in demand for rainwater-harvesting systems since the past four years. The first reason I think is the scale at which the city is growing. Borewells are not sustainable. The policy by BWSSB to make rainwater-harvesting mandatory in new houses is also leading to a shift in perspective. But there is still a lot of untapped potential in the city," adds Nathan.

Drinking water mixed with sewage

Drinking water mixed with sewage near Examiner office
Residents complained that they were receiving discoloured and stinking water for the last two months. Many people were reportedly sick after drinking this water. Many people in this area suffered from diarrhea and vomiting and three people, including a 10-year old child suffered from jaundice. The residents complained that repeated complaints to the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) yielded no results.

Parents of the affected child complained that the child was sick for the last 20 days. They complained that they were receiving contaminated water and the water they received a couple of days before was blackish. According them even though the BWSSB workers came and did some cleaning work, the problems persisted. The residents have given water samples for testing.

According to another resident, sanitary lines were often clogged. Residents also complained that the legislator of the area inspected the area and promised relief. However, residents complained that nothing was done. Residents also blamed two hotels nearby for releasing waste into the drains.

T Venkataraju, chief engineer (maintenance) BWSSB, said that the area engineers had examined the sumps of all the houses in the locality. He added that the domestic pipeline of one of the houses was damaged resulting in drinking water mixing with sewage. He said that there is no need to panic as only a few houses could be affected. He informed that the BWSSB was supplying tanker water to the affected area

City’s lakes might quench city’s thirst

City’s lakes might quench city’s thirst
City’s lakes might be put to better use instead of being just dumping grounds for Ganesh idols. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is likely to push forward the proposed scheme for sourcing drinking water from Bangalore’s lakes and valleys through the recycle and reuse process.

As many as 17 lakes, including Vrishabhavathi Valley and Koramangala and Challaghatta Valley, are among the water sources identified under the scheme which will be implemented under four different project heads. The scheme is expected to provide an additional 925 mld (millions of litres per day) to the city by 2015 and overcome the projected shortfall of 702 mld.

The Integrated Water Management Reuse of Waste Water in Vrishabhavathi, which was announced earlier, is billed to be the first of them. The notes on the project’s approval for funds from the Centre under JNNURM reveal that it is inclusive of customer awareness centres and demo plants. When asked about the project, former chief secretary and expert on environmental issues Ravindra, said that Bangalore was only going back to where it began. It was the lakes - Hessargahtta lake in particular and T G Halli tank later on - that met Bangalore’s drinking water needs before the city took to rapid growth, he observed. “Since we have exhausted the capacity to tap water from River Cauvery alternatives have to be found. Lakes are a source of surface water, which must be harnessed,” he suggested.

Meanwhile, the Lake Development Authority has its own reservations against the proposed scheme. For one thing, LDA’s ‘Adopt a Lake’ programme of the recent years has run into rough weather with the government voicing its displeasure. To make matters worse, the BWSSB is seeking some of the very lakes for which the LDA had the clients calling. Hebbal, Nagavara and Aagaram lakes are among them. There is also the LDA’s lack of confidence in the agencies who act as ‘watch and ward’ bodies for many lakes. As one common refrain in LDA goes, ‘The BDA makes layouts of lakes and the BBMP converts them to bus stands.’

This particular scheme is understood to have taken formal shape during the tenure of its previous chairman Latha Krishna Rao. She had earlier served as secretary of the Department of Forests, Environment and Ecology. As a BWSSB official puts it smugly: ‘The Government or the Revenue Department is the ultimate owner of these water bodies. Our experts have identified them and we are asking the government to hand them over to us.’Incidentally, year 2008 marks 75 years since water supply was started from the T G Halli tank.

Another snag hits road to airport - Daily News & Analysis

DNA - Bangalore - Another snag hits road to airport - Daily News & Analysis
There seems to be no let up in agonies piling up on the vital Bellary Road linking the Bangalore International Airport to the city.

Jayamahal Road, connecting the airport, R T Nagar and Yeshwantpur to the eastern areas of the city and the central business districts, has now been partially closed on account of BWSSB works.

The Cantonment railway station-bound vehicles on Jayamahal Road now have to take a diversion through the narrow Nandidurga Road. With a virtual bumper-to-bumper crawl on the Nandidurga Road, there has been cascading effect on the Bellary Road, which already is constricted by the ongoing underpass and road-widening works.

The result: the journey to and fro from the airport has only become that much more agonizing.

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is re-laying sanitary pipes on Jayamahal Road. Work on laying the sanitary pipes from Jayamahal to Miller's Road began on Monday.

"The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had built an underpass near the Cantonment railway station. While two underpasses have already been thrown open for vehicles, BBMP is planning to open the other two subways also. Hence, they have asked us to shift the existing pipelines," said Venkataraju, BWSSB chief engineer.

The Rs 12-lakh project involves laying new 300-mm sanitary pipes to a length of 2 km.

According to Venkataraju, it would take another month for the work to get completed.

But the BWSSB has been literally caught napping in having failed to do its ground work properly.

Without even a fair idea of the nature of the terrain on which it had to work, the agency began the work only to run into hard rocks.

"It is difficult to remove the hard rock and place pipes there. This is proving to be time-consuming," admitted Venkataraju.

"We have been asked to work in the afternoon and at night to avoid traffic jams during peak hours," he added.

Officials, however, refuse to acknowledge that traffic snarls have increased in the past few days. But the public has been inconvenienced.

"We are coordinating well with the traffic police and the work is not affecting the movement of vehicles," said the BWSSB chief engineer.

The R T Nagar police too said there were no traffic problems in their area as of now.

The citizens, however, try to brazen their way through the one-way rule by simply defying it.

"We weren't aware about the BWSSB work here. Anyway, If I had taken the Nandidurg Road it would mean taking too a long route to reach Cantonment," said Jeevan N, when DNA intercepted him while he was defying the one-way rule.

Friday, October 17, 2008

City to get 3 new underground sewer lines |ENS

City to get 3 new underground sewer lines
The Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee has approved three new underground sewerage projects for the city under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The new projects, to be implemented by the Bangalore Water supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) are planned at Dasarahalli, K R Puram and Mahadevpura.

The total project cost for all the three projects is Rs 334.64 crore, of which, Rs 117.12 crore would be Central assistance under the JNNURM and the remaining funds would be provided by the state government from World Bank assistance.

The existing sewerage system in these three areas is 70 km long. The BWSSB has proposed to lay 1,097 km of new drainage lines in all the three areas put together.

The BWSSB had sought the JNNURM’s assistance to undertake underground sewerage projects in all the seven city municipality and one town municipality area that were merged with the city to form Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

The Centre has already sanctioned Rs 199.76 crore for underground sewerage projects in Kengeri, Rajarajeshwari Nagara, Yelahanka, and Byatarayanpura under the JNNRM. “Approval for a plant at Bommanahalli is pending before the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee.

A detailed project report of the Bommanahalli project is being prepared by the BWSSB. If this project is sanctioned, the entire BBMP area would be provided with underground sewerage facilities”, sources in BWSSB informed The Express.

The sanctioned sewerage projects would be completed by December 2011.

Bengaluru to get a facelift by 2020 - CIOL News Reports

Bengaluru to get a facelift by 2020 - CIOL News Reports
An elaborate blueprint to pull Bengaluru out of the urban chaos is finally taking shape. R Chandrasekhar, MP and President, FICCI who is also the Convener, Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development (ABIDE) has presented to BS Yeddyurappa CM, Karnataka, a status progress report of his Task Force. ABIDE is an initiative of Yeddyurappa to deal with the multiple problems of one of India's fastest growing cities.

'Plan Bengaluru 2020' envisages a host of measures to tap the potential of the city to become India's showpiece city and an internationally prominent metropolis. It looks at new urban models, upgrading of infrastructure and a better quality of life.

The Task Force under the supervision of Chandrasekhar is looking at roads, traffic management, transportation, water, sanitation, power, airport, railways, policing, enforcement, law and order, city facilities, citizen centric governance, heritage, environment, government schools and colleges and a better deal for the urban poor.

Chandrasekhar said that his key objective is to make Bengaluru the preferred metropolis of India, which will serve as a gateway of investment and prosperity into Karnataka. ABIDE is working on Plan Bengaluru 2020, which is a comprehensive, ward wise, Integrated Development Plan for the much debated IT city.

Participating agencies like the Bruhath Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, Bangalore Development Authority, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, Namma Metro, High Speed Rail Link and others will now have to submit plans to the Task Force so that work could be started. Dates are being fixed for completion of various projects and will be constantly monitored by ABIDE.

Among many plans on the anvil is to build new roads, over bridges, develop water bodies, set-up water and sewerage systems, work on alternative transport systems and computerize RTO's to regularize tax collection and empower officers to collect fines.

Bengaluru will have a water shortage of 655 million liters a day by 2020. The Bangalore Water Supply Sewerage Board has been asked to take up water works without waiting for approval under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. There is a proposal to make rainwater harvesting mandatory. In four wards to be selected by the government, water is going to be supplied all round the day. One of these wards will probably get it within the next three months.

ABIDE's findings on planning and governance show that there are too many plan documents and no integration of plans and jurisdictions. It also pointed out that there was no single blueprint to manage the cities growth and its services. This is crucial as the population of Bengaluru is expected to touch 160 lakh by 2020.

The Task Force has recommended that planning for the city must be from a metropolitan region perspective and therefore it was necessary to strengthen the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority.

Another idea is to develop model wards, as it will help set-up examples that will help in further planning and execution.

New townships are envisaged too with proper distribution of population that would follow specified planning guidelines.

It said that the townships had to be positioned in such a way that connectivity, transportation, water and infrastructure expansion was underway.

Land acquisition all over India has been a problem as new projects come up. To overcome disputes and speed up development, a new model is suggested where landowners are given compensation through cash or land that can be developed.

They can also be offered employment. New roads would have a green ribbon of trees on both sides with provisions for future elevated transit systems, metro or mono rail to be made.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ryots body threatens stir against quarrying - Daily News & Analysis

DNA - Bangalore - Ryots body threatens stir against quarrying - Daily News & Analysis
The ongoing `illegal' stone quarrying near Cauverypuram village, located close to the water bodies of Krishnaraja Sagara Dam known as KRS or Brindavan Gardens, is not just a threat to the dam's safety; it'll dry up the drinking water supply to Mysore and Bangalore. Stone quarrying was going on at a distance of just 4.5 km from the reservoir, and high intensity explosives were being used by quarry contractors, which might prove fatal for the dam, farmer leaders point out.

Worried over the dam's safety and irked at the governmental apathy, the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), has resolved to launch a mass agitation soon.

The reservoir is among the primary sources of water to Srirangapattana, Pandavapura and Mandya, besides Bangalore and Mysore, though Bangalore is the largest consumer of water from this source. This apart, the reservoir feeds the crops of scores of villages in Mysore and Mandya districts that primarily grow sugar cane and paddy.

Krishnaraja Sagara reservoir, a bone of contention between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, can store up to 49 tmc water. It has a maximum depth of 124.8 ft with 152 surplus sluice gates starting from heights of 113 ft to the lowest at 12 ft. The state government recently decided to add another 15 sluice gates to support the structure. But this is of little use if unbridled quarrying goes on, it is pointed out.

According to KRS leaders, the state government has so far not taken the matter seriously. Speaking to DNA, president of KRS KS Puttannaiah said that stone quarrying at Cauverypuram in Mandya district (located at an 1.5 hours drive from Mysore) was perilous to the dam. An endangered dam will in turn affect farmers and urban centres.

Statistics have a different story to tell. Though the Department of Mines and Geology has permitted only 404 licensees for stone quarrying in 1,409 acres, more than 1,000 contractors are engaged in it. Few contractors were triggering off 'bore blasts' which is highly dangerous for the reservoir. "The indifference of the authorities concerned may cause irreparable damage to the reservoir," Puttannaiah said.

Drinking water, drain pipes to be replaced

‘Drinking water, drain pipes to be replaced’
Information and Bangalore North In-charge Minister Katta Subramanya Naidu on Monday said that the State Government had decided to replace drinking water and drain pipes in the city in a phased manner in the next two years.

Speaking to reporters here, Katta said that Rs 1,200-crore plan was prepared under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Replacement works had already begun in some areas, he added. The existing pipes, which were four to five decades old were rusted and had developed cracks, thus causing major health problems. He said that the government had also decided to conduct an inquiry into all decisions taken by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB).

He, however said that the nature of the inquiry would be decided after consulting the law department. “Indiscriminate decisions of the BWSSB with regard to various works had not only resulted in the poor quality of works but also caused huge loss to the ex-chequer,” he said.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Model wards to be developed in city

The Hindu : Front Page : Model wards to be developed in city
Some wards in Bangalore will soon be developed as a model with all civic amenities, by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Among the facilities that are to be provided include 24x7 electricity, good drainage system, roads and drinking water.

To enable identification of the model wards, a sub-committee headed by Transport Minister R. Ashok and Minister for Excise and BWSSB Katta Subramanya Naidu, was set up on Friday to submit plans for developing model wards in the city. The action follows the deliberations at the fifth meeting of the Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe). The sub-committee also includes former Chief Secretary A. Ravindra.

Briefing presspersons here, vice-chairman of ABIDe, H.N. Ananth Kumar, MP, said: “The sub-committee will submit its report on October 18, and the wards identified for this purpose will get all amenities. Resources needed to develop these wards and the mode of development would be recommended by this committee.” Among others, he said, chairpersons of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), Commissioner of Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA) and Principal Secretary, Urban Development, would be the members of the sub-committee.

A comprehensive policy to conserve and develop around 1,800 lakes in and around Bangalore would be formulated shortly by roping in several government agencies. A survey would be taken up to ensure proper conservation and restoration of lakes and a meeting of all stake-holders would be convened on October 30 to discuss the issue.

There are 278 lakes that cover an area of more than 40 hectares and 1,400 lakes that have an area of less than 40 hectares, while the Forest Department controls 114 lakes.

“The Lake Development Authority (LDA) is overburdened and around 20 lakes would be handed over to the BMRDA for development. Agencies such as the BDA, BBMP, zilla panchayat and Minor Irrigation Department would be involved in conservation of the water bodies,” Mr. Naidu said.

The Minister said: “In the first phase, around 60 lakes would be developed, including the 29 lakes that have been handed over to BDA and BBMP. The BWSSB will act as the nodal agency in development of the lakes.”

The ABIDe also felt the need for reserving land at the end of the Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) for maintaining greenery and not to use the space for any commercial development.

It was also decided to have a 100 m wide PRR that can accommodate future expansion plans for monorail, Metro Rail and high speed rail corridor.

The issue of seamless traffic on the Outer Ring Road, road transport, traffic congestion and others were also discussed. Earlier, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said that inter-departmental coordination implementation needed to be strengthened.
Vision document

The Chief Minister said that the outline of the vision document “Bangalore 2020” had been prepared by the ABIDe convener Rajeev Chandrashekar in coordination with various civic agencies. “After all the civic agencies come out with individual vision documents, it has to be consolidated into a report, which will be the basis for monitoring commitments and performance of the respective departments,” he said.

Pilferage leaving these cities water-starved

Mangalorean.Com- Serving Mangaloreans Around The World!
Even as residents of Hubli-Dharwad and Belgaum hold protests and raise hue and cry over shortage supply of drinking water, nearly half of the water drawn for these cities is going down the drain by way of leakage, pilferage and illegal connections.

Water shortage has led to an increase in exploitation of ground water by those who can afford to dig borewells. On the other, it has offered roaring business to those who sell water tanks as low-income groups tend to store whatever water is supplied. Although 96 million litres a day (MLD) of water is drawn from Malaprabha and Neerasagar reservoirs for the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad, only 45 MLD reaches the consumers.

Interestingly, several wards of the twin cities have not received water for a week in a stretch. With the municipal authorities failing to supply water, residents of these cities had no option but to depend on ground water.

The situation is no different in Belgaum where the consumers get only 19 MLD of water out of the 47.2 MLD drawn from Rakkasakoppa and Hidkal reservoirs. With this, each consumer gets 71 litres of water a day in Belgaum, 70 litres in Dharwad and 66 litres in Hubli.

Acute surface water shortage and inept supply agencies are fuelling a boom in non-regulated groundwater markets in the state. The dependence on groundwater has risen to 51%, 30% and 37% in Hubli, Dharwad and Belgaum respectively.

According to a study conducted on the water status and emerging trends by a team led by Chief Ministers Advisor K.V. Raju, who is also the faculty member of the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, revealed that poor supply and distribution networks, high physical losses, low pressure, non-metered municipal connections and lower recovery of cost have been the major reasons for poor water supply in these cities.

A number of middle and high-income group families had dug borewells with Hubli accounting for 8,967 borewells, Dharwad for 2,716 and Belgaum for 14,500 borewells.
The dependency on ground water was as high as 51 per cent in Hubli with 19 MLD being harvested from borewells followed by Dharwad where it is 32 per cent (6 MLD), the study said.

If high-income groups resorted to digging borewells, low-income groups resorted to storing the water available, offering roaring business to sellers of water tanks. About 25 firms were into selling water tanks in Dharwad, 15 in Hubli and 50 in Belgaum, it said.
Water shortage has also provided good business to those who supply water through tankers. More than 50 tankers operate throughout the day supplying water in the twin cities.

Fifteen companies were involved in the bottled drinking water trade in these cities. They sell water worth Rs. 1 crore (0.21 MLD) in Dharwad, Rs. 2.4 crore (3.28 MLD) in Hubli and Rs. 3 crore (2.4 MLD) in Belgaum, the study said. Borewell-drilling companies too were making roaring business.

Exploitation of groundwater had resulted in degradation of water sources to the extent of 39 per cent in Hubli, 45 per cent in Dharwad and 22 per cent in Belgaum. In general, the groundwater was too hard in Hubli and Dharwad with high calcium content. In Belgaum, it was contaminated with fluoride, the study said.

The groundwater markets, along with the businesses of tankers, borewell drillers, packaged drinking water and accessories like pumps and storage gadgets add to the boom. The demand of water in Hubli and Dharwad is 90 MLD (million litres per day) and 45.16 MLD respectively. The agencies supply about 25.6 MLD and 19.2 MLD, exclusive of the 40% of the unaccounted-for water. Groundwater (9 MLD in
Hubli and 3 MLD in Dharwad) is also supplied. In Hubli, Dharwad and Belgaum, 42%, 45% and 22% of samples analyzed were classified as non-potable.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Drink straight from tap, thanks to Tata's water utility - India PRwire

Drink straight from tap, thanks to Tata's water utility - India PRwire

Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India, 2008-09-28 14:45:02
This is India's only city where you can drink water straight from the tap, thanks to the local utility Ask oil mill owner Manoj Singh, who has paid Rs.10,500 for a connection - a month's income - but doesn't regret a single paisa.

Singh has found no cause for complaint since his working class neighbourhood Shastri Nagar, just outside the township, was connected to the JUSCO network last November.

'Yes, I paid a lot of money for the connection,' Manoj Singh told IANS. 'But it has been worth it. Now the women do not have to go and queue up for hours to fetch drinking water. We get clean water in our taps, 24 hours a day. Where else in this country will you get that?'

The enthused water utility is now poised to spread its wings all over the country, where clean drinking water is often at a premium and where millions of people suffer from water-borne diseases every year.

In August 2003, Tata Steel hived off its Town Division as Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company Limited (JUSCO), a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Jamshedpur started as a township for Tata Iron and Steel Company, now known as Tata Steel. The firm provided all essential services in the township - power and water supply, sanitation, roads and so on.

In the 103 years since its foundation, the city - with a population of 700,000 by the 2001 census - has grown well beyond the township in eastern India. In the new areas, there is no municipality and the supply of water by the Jharkhand state government against a flat rate of Rs.11 a month is as erratic as in any other Indian city.

In the last five years, JUSCO has seen its turnover grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36 percent to Rs.2.72 billion in FY 08 and its profit before tax grow at a CAGR of 47 percent to Rs.284.5 million in the same fiscal.

It has now won a contract to provide water to the township of Haldia and a part of Kolkata's Salt Lake suburb, both in West Bengal. It is also bidding to supply water to Mysore, and then hopes to expand to more cities.

JUSCO's confidence stems from its experience here in providing water that's clean enough to drink and meters that work.

'We can't afford to have a water supply that doesn't work,' JUSCO managing director Sanjiv Paul told IANS. 'We supply water to the Tata Steel blast furnaces. They work 24x7 for 15 years at a stretch. If there's a 15-minute break in the water supplied to them, they'll collapse.

'That's where we come from. And that's why we can give a service level guarantee (SLG) to all our domestic water consumers.'

The SLG has improved in the last four years - from three days to fix the water supply to one day now. G.S. Basu, JUSCO's general manager, water management, is confident it will go down to a few hours very soon.

The initial connection cost may be steep but the tariff - at Rs.6 a kilolitre (kl) up to 25 kl for domestic consumers - is lower than Chennai's Rs.15, Delhi's Rs.10.50 or Bangalore's Rs.9 paid to state-run utilities. And the JUSCO rate is the same as that in Hyderabad and Kolkata.

Former Tata Steel driver Bishan Singh has both connections running - from JUSCO as well as from the state government - and uses the clean water only for drinking. One valve keeps his JUSCO water bill down to about Rs.50 a month, a trick copied by many of his neighbours.

Down the main road of Shastri Nagar, leprosy-afflicted Naresh Sau could not afford the JUSCO water connection. It has still been a boon for his family - his wife can now get drinking water from the neighbours next door instead of having to go to the end of the lane and queue up.

Neighbourhood electrician Shivnath Choudhury lives in a large building that houses 13 families. They pooled their money to take one water supply connection from JUSCO.

'The total bill comes to about Rs.600 a month, which is very good for so many people getting clean water any time of the day or night,' says Choudhury.

Armed with this experience, JUSCO is approaching municipalities all over India.

'The biggest hurdle we face is the prevailing mindset,' says Paul. 'We are providing perfectly clean water that is cheaper when you take all costs into account. The trouble is there are so few people willing to understand that.'

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at

- By Joydeep Gupta

Vital underpass on Airport road closed - Daily News & Analysis

DNA - Bangalore - Vital underpass on Airport road closed - Daily News & Analysis
Now, they are blaming the rain gods for playing truant with city's vital link to the new airport.

On Monday ground water was seen seeping and collecting in the carriage way of the "instant underpass' near Cauvery Junction. And there was no 'magic' solution for the problem than to close it for traffic. Motorists coming from Bashyam Circle were directed to go round the underpass towards BDA office.

Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) chief engineer (Major Roads) Krishna Reddy told DNA that the nearby Sankey Tank was to blame. "As a result of an abundance of rains this year, the tank is brimming with water and the groundwater table has risen. The underpass was constructed by excavating the earth. The excavation was kept above the water table but now the water table has risen to a depth of 6m (19.8 feet) and hence the seepage,'' he said.
The problem of seepage was not restricted to the Cauvery Junction underpass. Even the nearby underpass of Mekhri Circle grade separator has been experiencing groundwater seepage recently inconveniencing motorists.

Traffic snarls return

Cauvery Junction underpass and along with the one near BDA junction and Sanjayanagar cross were envisaged to ease congestion on the road to new airport. Now it seems that the situation may not improve. During excavation for Sanjayanagar underpass, one km away from Cauvery Junction, groundwater was sighted. Former PWD secretary Captain Raja Rao felt that this was the result of shoddy planning. "One has to plan for the worst geological conditions. It is not that we cannot make roads when there is ground water. BBMP seems to be driven by publicity," he said.
During the construction of Cauvery Junction under pass, the workers slit open a live water supply line, delaying the work by 40 days.

No water here for 5 years-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

No water here for 5 years-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
BANGALORE: It’s been five years since 20 houses on II Cross, Coles Road, have had proper water supply. While supply of Cauvery water has been affe
cted by low pressure, borewells are non-existent. This means the 150 residents in these houses have had to rely on water from tankers, the BWSSB and private suppliers. A few end up paying Rs 300 a day for water, while others pool in for shared supply.

Attempts by the area MLA to solve the problem raised residents’ hopes. But they were dashed when supply was temporarily blocked on Spencer Road.

Throughout all this, residents have been paying the minimum water charges every month. But for how long, they ask. “We pay the minimum fare not for water but the air that runs the meter,’’ says
N A Afsal, a resident. Zaffar Sait, another resident and a builder living here since 1975, shares a similar experience.

Coming under the command area of High Grounds reservoir, this region is located at a higher level. Pipelines have been laid 10-12 ft above road level and this has resulted in low pressure. This means the lane gets little or no water, while others in the area are unaffected. These rusted pipelines were laid way back in 1981-82. Attempts at cleaning pipes and replacing valves have been of little help.

About 15 days ago, area MLA Prasanna Kumar found a way out — drawing water from the parallel Spencer Road through connecting lines. Work on laying the lines is complete, but water supply has still not begun.

Way out of the block?
A small meeting on Monday seems to have moved things ahead. Legal permission is being sought to overcome the block on Spencer Road. “We are working on it and should have the problem sorted out in a day or two,’’ area corporator A R Zakhir told TOI.
“Seeing the first flow of water through this 2-inch pipe in a couple of days — after five long years — is going to be a historic moment for us,’’ says Pradeep Kumar Reddy, ex-corporator of Fraser Town.

According to BWSSB engineers, work in this area has been taken up on high priority. The connection from Spencer Road will not affect supply to this region. It would only benefit 20-30 houses in the parallel lane, they said. With increasing demand and limited stock, they are also working on balancing supply. “Earlier, we supplied water for 5-6 hours in surrounding areas like Cox Town and Fraser Town but have now reduced it to 2-3 hours to ensure balanced supply,’’ he said.

Parts of Fraser Town also hit
Mouna Guru Mutt Road in Fraser Town is another area affected by poor water supply. While water is usually supplied on alternate days, 20-30 houses went without water for four days a week ago.

Supply resumed on Sunday, but the flow — from 9 am to 1.30 pm — was inadequate. “Every time we approach the local BWSSB engineers, we are given different answers,’’ says Parikshit, a resident. One of the main reasons: “There is no proper supply from TG Halli itself.’’

Residents faced a similar problem in May and the Karnataka Human Rights Commission had to intervene. The problem seems to have resurfaced in less than six months, complain residents.

According to a BWSSB official, a recent snag in lifting water from High Grounds reservoir caused this problem. With the sorted, residents are hoping the supply will soon improve.