Give us water and take OUR votes - Bangalore - City - The Times of India
Give us water and take OUR votes
Aarthi R, TNN, Jan 9, 2010, 02.55am IST
BANGALORE: February 21, 2010. That’s the day citizens will elect their corporators after nine years. But voters in many areas, mainly the middle class and urban poor, are not even thinking about it. All their hopes have dried up, just like the taps in their houses. If some are aware of the date, they say their vote would be for those who can help fight their long-drawn battle for water.
Voters are aware that water shortage has gripped the entire city, but what irks them is ‘regular’ irregularities in supply and untamed sanitary lines for years now. This time, even political favouritism seems to have dried up.
Take the case of 300 residents of L G Ramanna Layout in Laggere. Areas like Bhuvaneshwarinagar, Kanakanagar and a few surrounding areas get minimal water during most days of the year. But before any election, they get a surprisingly ‘good’ stock even during dry days. Reason: ‘free’ water earns candidates a good number of votes. Locals say this happened during the last assembly elections as well.
Increasing measures for water conservation and projects to supply water for new areas apart, many old areas are increasingly being noticed for improper water supply for years. Two more cases to sample: JP Nagar 8th Phase and Shahdabnagar. The former, a well-planned BDA layout with no proper water for almost a decade.
JP NAGAR 8th PHASE
The two blocks in the area, each with 100 houses, are still waiting for proper water and sanitary conditions. “Six-inch pipes were laid in 2003 for water supply but no water yet,” says N Jagadish, a resident of Block I since 2003. On March 14, 2008, he filed an RTI to find out when they will get water for the area.
Forget water, a reply to the query from the BWSSB landed only on June 22, 2009, saying it will take them six months to fulfil the pending procedures for it. With that deadline also over, the residents sent a letter to BWSSB chairperson on December 30, but have not received a reply yet.“We’ve been paying for water all through. We don’t mind even fighting a legal battle for it. Will the upcoming BBMP elections change our plight?” they ask. This area is at walkable distance from the glass factory beyond Konankunte. The plight of the adjoining Block II is worse with no proper sanitary connections.
On August 15, 2009, residents here were on protest for water, which has continued to 2010 as well. There was some relief in between but the residents have been again facing hardships due to water shortage for the past one-and-a-half month.
“We are fed up. We have met almost everyone — from the water inspectors to even the PA of the BWSSB minister and our MLA. We have even written to the CM but to no avail. Earlier we used to get water at least once a week, but now no water at all. Only the reason changes. This time we were told its the low pressure from Malleswaram water unit and that is insufficient to supply water to entire Pillana Garden area of which our area is a small part of,” complains Mohammad Ghouse, a resident. On August 20, they requested for borewells but nothing happened.
Around 5,000 people reside in this area, majority of them from low-income groups. Many have been buying water from tankers for Rs 300 every alternate day and going to RT Nagar for drinking water. What surprises them is that RT Nagar, which is very close to their area, has remained unaffected.
A student from Jogupalya says about a rather unpleasant ‘Bad Water & Sewerage Supply Board’ offer for months in their area. “It is one that makes people pay for water and gives dengue, chikungunya and even H1N1 for free,” says Dhanush Krishnan.
“Babus and leaders talk to us about big infrastructure plans, but they forget that we are fast losing our own health infrastructure. Don’t blame the Namma Metro work. We know it will take time. But, why can’t the BWSSB arrange for an alternative like going overhead if not underground?” he asks.
“We pay a minimum Rs 25 every month towards sanitary charges but sewerage flows on almost all the roads in this area. The ‘bored’ employees step out only if a minimum Rs 200 is paid. Our city has become ‘Bang hell ooru’, ‘Guard dengue city’ that scares even youths like me,” signs off this I PU student.