Water Crisis in Karnataka

Submitted by Hindi on Tue, 04/19/2016 - 13:31
A Report by ‘Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology’ for National Commission for Women, January, 2005, Page 56-62.

Karnataka is facing the worst kind of water crisis. A survey has revealed that as many as 50 percent of the respondent’s felt that supply of drinking water is the major challenge that the government has to face (Deccan Herald 2004).

For the first time in the history of Belgaum district, the administration had started sending water through trains to several villages and towns of the district, which were reeling under severe water crisis. The train that carried six lakh litres of water halted at five-railway stations enroute to Shedbal from Ghatprabha daily. Later road tankers carried the water from railway tankers and supply it to the villages (Vijay Times, and Deccan Herald)

In Bangalore, only 35% of the city gets water on daily basis, the rest on alternative days. About 27 wards in Bangalore are not yet a part of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) network. Most of these lies on the periphery of the city in the newer colonies and left out. More over 40% of the city is not covered by the under ground drainage system, which implies that sewage goes untreated and this sewage percolates into the ground water (Manjunath 2004)

A Walk around Sanjay Nagar, a residential suburb shows that resident’s gets water once in three days, with no fixed timings. Sometimes, it comes for three hours. In Murphy town a slum in the heart of bustling Ulsoor, where each street of 10-15 hutments shares one tap. Bangalore Ground Water has been severely depleted. Earlier bore wells hit water at 50 feet, now they have to go down to 300 feet. (Manjunath 2004)

Indeed, it is not just Bangalore but the whole of Karnataka that is reeling under severe water shortage. The state government payed to the government of Maharashtra an advance of Rs. 3.30 crore in order to seek the release of 2000 million cubic feet of water at the Rajapur Barrage of the River Krishna. This move had been made because three districts Bagalkot, Bijapur and Belgaum have absolutely no water.

In addition to the scarcity, Bangalore water woes have another dimension: chemical pollution. The findings of study are damning. Ground water is found unsuitable for drinking in as many as 370 out of the 735 samples. That means over 50% of the city’s drinking water is not potable. In Bharthi Nagar, the level shut up to as high as 660 mg per litre while the permissible level is 50 mg (Radhika 2004)

Although there are no definite reports, doctors and environmental experts feel that there is possibility of increasing in the incidence of Blue Baby Syndrome because of high nitrates levels in drinking water. Most deaths among children, especially less than six months old, almost go unreported. With the consumption of excess nitrates, oxygen carrying capacity of blood decreases. It leads to the ‘Blue Baby Syndrome’ Nitrates increase the iron content in hemoglobin babies fed on processed foods are more vulnerable. (Radhika 2004)

In a discussion conducted by one Voluntary Organization, women made the shocking revelations about the water crisis in Bangalore in different localities and slum areas.

Sunalane and Samadhanagar Slums in Kadagoundanahalli

Suna Lane and Samadhanagar slums are located in kadagoundanahalli area, which has 2500 population. Most of the people earn their livelihood on daily wages. The worst affected being women and children, with hardly any source of maintenance or income. Sometimes whole families are compelled to work.

The housing condition of these people is miserable. A cluster of houses jammed in a small place is a common sight in these areas. The houses are one-room shelters with thatched roof. They are a cheaply constructed, walls generally not plastered and the floor not laid properly, these houses are over crowded with people. In such a situation they are unable to construct some structures for storing water, adding to their problem of scarcity of water, and this is why they should be provided with regular supply of water.


Government had provided a hand pump, which has been under repair from past 10 years. They do not have any source of drinking water and have to purchase drinking water from private suppliers at Rs. 2 or 3 per pot.

The CMC, a year back has provided water connection at a location. This water is hard water (salty water), which is not fit for drinking, and they use it to only for washing and bathing purpose. They have to pay Rs. 5/-per week for this, for which no bill is issued. The water is supplied everyday in this tap, but only for an hour and it does not have any fixed timing, this being the only tap for 500 population, the residents have to spend hours together for filling water. Most of the ladies being daily wage labourers, housemaids. They have to forgo their bread for water. Children especially girl children will have to forgo with their studies, to maintain house and main job being quenching the thirst of the family.


This situation in this area is much worse than the Sunalane; they do not have any source of water. Their only source is the private water supplier, who sells drinking water at Rs. 2/- per pot (how safe this water is also a question?)

Recently due to some action by the local pressure groups, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), is providing two tanker of water, and each house gets only give pots of water for Rs. 1/-.

For getting water for other purpose’s both Sunalane and Samdhanagar residents have to walk 2 kms to areas like Venkateshpura, PNT Colony, Tannery Road, amid high traffic.

Water Problem:

■ For the first 30 years the slum did not have any source of water. 10 years ago BMP gave them one public tap, which has been constructed on the footpath of Netaji Road outside the slum.

■ This tap is used by the slum dweller for their multiple uses of drinking, cooking, bathing and washing clothes.

■ There is one common bathroom in this slum but only one water connection has been for both the public tap and the bathroom. This means that when the tap is used for collecting drinking water, no water comes in the bathroom.

■ Water generally comes in the morning at 11 a.m. or in the middle of the night. The flow of water is also very thin and making collection of water takes a very long and tedious process in the scorching sun and zooming traffic.

■ Other sources of water for the slum are the 2 public taps across Netaji Road. To get water from these, the women have to cross Netaji road, which has heavy vehicular traffic during the day. The chances of an accident occurring are high.

■ Water is released either at 11 a.m or in the middle of the night both these timings make it very difficult for women to collect water as they leave early in the morning to go to work and have to stay up for most of the night if water comes in the middle of the night.

■ They also find it very difficult to wash clothes or take a bath in the middle of the night.

■ It is difficult for them it gives their children a bath and get them ready for school.

■ They generally have a bath only twice in 8 days due to the scarcity of water and inconvenient times of water release.

■ The sole publics tap in on the footpath and this is where the slum dwellers wash their cloths and take a bath. This means that the general public cannot use this section of the footpath, and have to taste the angry comments of the footpath users regularly.

■ The sewerage pipe is very close to the water tap and there is a large pool of stagnant water with flies and other pollutants, very close to the tap. This increases the danger of contamination of drinking water source and the danger of infections to the slum dwellers.

Doddananagar slums in Kavalibairasandra

Doddananagar slum are located in Kavalbairasandra area which has about 20,000 population. It is supposed to be one of the Bangalore’s oldest slum, but even after nearly 40 years of its existent people here have not been provided with basic necessities – drainage, sewage water etc., even today people here have to fill their sanitation and sewage water in drums manually and dumped into nearby gutters. Water here like other slums is really a blue gold, there is utter scarcity of water.

Water Supply Status:

■ Public Taps: The government has been generous in providing one tap in each lane, but water trickles in these taps once in 10-12 days, and that too for few erratic hours. Mostly midnight or when everyone had gone for work. Moreover it is hard water, unfit for consumption.

■ Other Taps in the Vicinity: The slum dwellers fetch drinking water from kavalbairasandra, which is nearly 1 km from their slum or from Tannery road (1.5 kms). They have to pay Rs. 25/- per month to fetch water from Kaval Bysandra tank. But even here they have to go either early in the morning or middle of the night.

■ Tanker: Arranged by local MLA to supply drinking water only. However, only about 300 families are able to collect 4 pots in a week time and they have to pay Rs. 5/- per week, remaining 1500 households still suffer from safe drinking water.

Few Private water suppliers sell water on bicycles at Rs. 2/- per pot.

■ Women and children who are also breadwinners of the family spent 3-4 days filling water, losing their wages.

■ Insufficient water for sanitation purposes has led to clogged drainage and bathrooms leading to more mosquitoes and polluted air.

■ The public taps are located at strategic points! The rational behind laying water pipes on the gutter is beyond one’s comprehensions.

Hosapalya and Bandipalya slums in Bammnahalli

Hosapalya and Bandipalya slums are located in Bammnahalli area, which has a population of approximately 3000 people. Hosapalya and Bandipalya have approximately 450 huts and come under the jurisdiction of Bommanahalli City Corporation. Most of them are being to backward communities.

Water Problem: There is water connection from Bommanahalli City Corporation and there are 9 public taps:

■ Water comes from these taps only for 1 hour in the evening from 5.30 to 6.30 p.m. In that 1 hour each house gets only4 pots of water.

■ Many complaints have been made to the local councilor but they have got no response.

■ The colony has no other sources of water. In an emergency they have to walk 2 km to get water.

■ Some of the women who work in the garment factory have to leave their homes at 8 a.m. They only arrive back at 7.30 p.m. This makes it very difficult for them to collect water as water only comes for 1 hour in the evening from 5.30 to 6.30 p.m.

How are they to go to work to earn their livelihood land yet gathering water for their family’s daily needs?

■ Some women make agarbattis in their houses. They can make 1000 agarbattis in 1 hour for which they get paid Rs. 10. Because here is such a severe water shortage they spend 4-5 hours every day that they cannot make agarbattis and as a result, they forfeit Rs. 40- 50 every day.

■ Some times the water coming from the taps is brown in colour. Due to this the children get many infections.

■ Women also get sever joint pain in their shoulders, hips and knees due to carrying water pots from water sources outside their colony. To collect water from Garyabhavipalya takes 1 hour. This takes a toll on women of in the colony in terms of time spent collecting water, earning lost, and adverse effects on health.

Byappanahalli slum in Satyanagar.

Satyanagar slum are located in Byappanahalli area, which has approximately 6,000 populations. Satyanagar slum which shelter a population of 6,000 came under the Bangalore Mahanagar Palika in 1997, but even today is deprived of basic need for survival i.e. water. In the entire area there is not even a single tap bore well or any sort of water source.

There are no public taps and bore well. A big water pipeline connection between Marthisevaagar and Defence Colony runs through Satyanagar slum. Because there is absolutely no source of water for Satyanagar slum dwellers, they have loosened the joint in the water pipe with their engineering skills and the water that gushes from this point has been their only source.

This land belongs to the military. Sometimes ago military officials came to know about this leakage of water and appointed a watchman to see that no one fills water from the leakage, when this could not stop the slum dwellers from filling the water, the defence officials decide to repair the pipe. The elders in the slum requested them not to repair the pipe, as this is the only source of water for 10,000 poor people. The defence people’s generosity is quenching their thirst.

There is another slum, Byayappanahalli, 2 km away from Satyanahar slum. Those people, numbering approximately 4,000 also come to Satyanagar area to collect water. So this loose join in the water pipeline is the lifeline for people from both Satyanagar and Bayappanahali slums.

■ The story does not end here; there is a huge open drainage/sewage gutter below the water pipe. The slim dwellers stand in the stinking gutter and fill their water and some times they also collect some amount of sewage water. Because of this women and children who are the primary water fillers are suffering from serious infections.

■ Children wait to collect water instead of going to school. As a result of this their schooling suffers.

Rajeshwarinagar and Rajgopalnagar slums.

Rajgopalnagar and Rajeshwarinagar slums are located in Peenya. Dasarahalli City Municipal Corporation area, which has approximately 10,000 populations.

Source of Water:

This area comes sunder the jurisdiction of the City Municipal Corporation. The four CMC bore wells are the only source of water available to the residents of this area. Out of this four one bore well has not been functioning.

Most of the problems faced in this area are similar to the water problems faced in other areas.

■ Insufficient & erratic distribution of water
■ But the most significant and crucial problem faced in this area is the rapid contamination of water.
■ All the bore wells pump out water containing some unwanted dangerous solvents.

Pale Green Water: One of the bore well, has been pumping out water that is of a pale green colour, from last 8 months. It is unfit for drinking, but since there is acute shortage of water, residents of this area are using this water for other domestic purposes, but for cooking and drinking.

Water with White Mask: Second bore well pumps out hard water. A white dusty like layer is formed on the surface of this water if it is stored, this water is not fit for cooking, washing and drinking due to hardness, but the locals have no other source of water and thus end up using this water of domestic purpose and also for drinking.

Water and Worms: The CMC drilled third bore well to provide for drinking water. In this bore well, people are allowed to fill only three pots per house when the water is supplied. This water if it is stored for more than one day gets infected with worms. But this water is being used for drinking.

Fourth bore well is under repair. The residents of this area being mainly daily labourers who leave their houses early morning and comes back late in the evening. They cannot afford to buy safe drinking water, or have their own source of water and hence are forced to use those contaminated water.

It is the women and children who are primary water fillers in the family, and since they use the contaminated water for cleaning, washing and other purposes, most of the children are suffering from severe skin problems like boils, rashes, itching sensation on their hands, legs etc. They are also experiencing sever joint pain in their hips, knees etc. after using water.

The doctors of CMC after seeing the water told the people that they should boil and use it, but this aggravated their problem. The situation in this area is a clear example of the absolute failure of the government machinery in protecting its people.

Peenya Industrial Area.

Peenya Industrial area is located in Peenya II Stage in Hagganahalli, which has 18,000 populations. This slum area comes under the jurisdiction of Peenya Industrial area. Many garment and other industries and factories are located here. Most of the dwellers in this area are migrated people from North Karnataka.

Source of Water. The area comes under the CMC jurisdiction and hence no BWSSB water supply. Ground water is the main source of water, there are 4 public bore wells out of which only two are functioning.

Issues and Problems of Water:

(i) Out of the 4 public bore wells; water comes only from 2 bore wells and even this water is being illegally sold by the CMC.
(ii) Only 10 out of 300 public taps are working. The other 290 taps are not working.
(iii) Out of the 35 small tanks, water comes from only 1 tank once in two days.

Due to the severe lack of water supply, the people of this slum are facing many problems.

■ There is rampant sale of water. People have to pay Rs. 3-5 to get 1 pot of water from private sellers of water. There are 14 private bore wells that sell water. These private sellers are making huge profit through the sale of water.

Rates per pot in each areaEven after paying such exorbitant prices they are not able to get sufficient quantity of water. Most of the residents are daily labourers and casual labourers in factories; they have to shell out major share of their income to get water.

● Many street fights occur among the people over water. Social conflict and Social tension is high in this area.
● There is a steep increasing in the rate of social dropouts.
● People spend 4-5 hours in a day collecting water. They are not able to work for these 4- 5 hours and this adversely affects their earning.

Most of the people who own houses have drilled bore wells and are selling water in their neighborhood. Apart from this farmers in the nearby villagers are getting bunkers and are selling water. One tanker of water costs around Rs. 250/-, one drum of water costs around Rs. 60/-. People queuing behind tankers for water are a common scene in these parts.

GowthamNagar Slum in Yeshwantpur.

Gowthamnagar slims are located in Yeshwantpur area which has approx. 3500 population. There are tow water tanks, two bore wells and three public taps in the locality.

Almost all the residents of this locality are construction workers and loaders in the nearby marketing yard of Yeshwantapur. The income varies from Rs. 50/- to Rs. 100/- per day. The children are discontinuing their education in primary education itself and go for coolie work to support their families.

Source of Water: Out of 350 houses in the locality,150 houses have got water pipe line connection. As per the Bangalore Mahannagare Palika (BMP) policy 18% of its budget should be spent for the slums to provide the basic amenities such as drinking water, toilets, drainage etc. The political leaders involved in this process of water pipe line connection and collected Rs. 4000/- to Rs. 6000/- from each individual and gave the connections.

Sealing of the Public Taps:

In the month of September 2002, the Junior Engineer of BWSSB came to the locality and sealed off all the three public taps, when people retaliated, he coolly answered that there is no more water to any slums in Bangalore. If at all you require water, you pay and get it. What is happening, the people have no water for drinking and imagine about the need for water for other need, such as bathing, washing etc. This is a classical example about the impact of privatization of water on poor. Though this slum is recognized by the Government, it has been struggling for water.

No Water But Pay the Bill

The people were happy that they would be getting water in their house itself, instead going to the public taps and stand in the queue for water. And also they thought that they need not waste their time for fetching water. It all went on for well till they got connections. But when it started functioning only the people those who residing at the back of the HIS Primary School and Higher Primary School are getting water and those who are in front of the school are not getting water since their houses are in not low lying area. The water won’t reach to them since the water does not have that much of force to reach till end. Despite spending Rs. 4000/- to Rs. 6000/- for pipeline connection, and meter they could not get water.

At the end of the month who ever got pipe connections but were not getting water too got bill ranging between Rs. 100/- to Rs. 500/- for water supply from BWSSB. They have not paid the water bill since they have not get water. BWSSB authority stopped water supply for the whole area since they have not received water bill from this slum. The people went to the Junior Engineer of BWSSB and requested him for the water. Though water is being supplied to this slum, it is not guarantee. In a week once or twice they get water. The people those do not get water in the pipeline connections and those who do not have pipeline connections pay Rs. 20/- to Rs. 0/- for a month to the neighbors those who get water and get water for their needs. But the BWSSB has been prompt in sending the bills.

Bharat Gold Mines Ltd (BGML), Township in Kolar Gold Fields.

BGML, Township slums are located in Kolar Gold Fields area, which has approximately 65,500 population. Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) well known for its rich deposits of gold and was a well-furnished, planned township. In the recent years it has declined, after the closure of the BGML, depriving the inhabitants of KGF of may of the basic amenities. The BGML miners through their hard work, excavated the royal yellow metal-Gold to the world, benefiting the nation but they remain poor and without proper amenities.

After the closure of BGML, basic amenities like water, sanitation, have worsened the life to the inhabitants especially regarding the poor water supplies. About 65,000 persons of the township are badly hit. Requirement of water per person, per day including, domestic and public utility purpose. Required water for the present population is about 71,00,000 to 73,00,000 liters per day.

Source of Water:

1. Underground Water Sources: The township is divided into four divisions with pumping stations and the bore wells sources.

Due to the closure of the mines, the abandoned mines have filled with water, and the submerged pipes have been rusting, and the entire system has failed, with about 20,00,000 liters of water have got contaminated and impossible to harness.

2. Bethamangala lake Source: Qualitative water was supplied in pre independence time to the BGML Township from the Bethamangala Lake. Three decades back, Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWS&DB) took over the water source, and started charging for the water. Due to non payment of the bills, the board withdrew the water supply. Now against the earlier supply of 35,00,000 liters per day, the supply has drastically reduced.

3. Borewell source: To increase the water source, few bore wells have been dug, but the water is insufficient, with the bore wells yielding about 15,00,000 – 16,00,000 liters per day.

Lack of water affects the health and hygiene of the public and creates several social problem.

● According to one resident, “Guests avoid coming to our homes because they are aware of water problem.”

● Another resident laments “neighbours look at each other as foes as we quarrel at community taps, a common sight witnesses”.

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