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Comprehensive Policy for Managing Bangalore Water

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There is a need for a comprehensive City management policy for Bangalore. The policy should address all aspects of life pertaining to the city, including people and other live stock. Water is one of the important aspects of life. 

  1. Air
  2. Water
  • Rain water harvesting

              i.      On road Storm Water

             ii.      On Residences

  •  Ground Water Management

              i Hazardous Chemical /                                                                      Industrial  Polution

  •   Storm Water Hazards

               i.      Safe Traffic

               ii.      Drowning

               iii.      Electrocution

               iv.      Related Accidents

  •      Safe Dinking water

                  i.      Treatment

                  ii.      Storage

                  iii.      Distribution

  •   Water for sports
  •   Water for Greenery
  •   Water Audit
  1. End Water
  2. Food
  3. Traffic
  4. Fuel
  5. Communication
  6. Education
  7. Business
  8. Industries
  9. Others 

In this thread we would like to Restrict to water management of the city. 

Interestingly there is an International Masters programme in water Management. 

Water Quality Management

Part of the International Master Programme in Water Management

Participants in this specialization will study the water quality impacts of human activities on aquatic ecosystems, as well as possible remedial actions appropriate to different levels of environmental stress and in various socio-economic contexts.

Start next run: October 2009 (open for registration)
Duration: 18 Months
Location: UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands
Specialization as part of Water Management Programme (for the description of the specialization as part of the Environmental Science Programme click here)



psaram42's picture

Why are the Lakes disappearing in Bangalore?

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The lakes were an important part of rain water harvesting adopted by our ancestors, in olden days. The purpose of lakes was to store the rain water for drinking and irrigation needs of people and the live stock. The economy of the land in those days was village centric. Life was mainly dependent on agriculture. A few cities existed mainly for ruling clan and the armies etc. 

Before the age of Steam and IC engines the administrative reach was limited. With steam/IC engines and electricity the Industrial revolution came into being. With the Industrial revolution, the prominence of cities and the consequent down fall of villages was inevitable. In fact the villages are irrelevant or can be visualized as resorts for calming the cities, in to day's context. 

It is obvious with the above perspective that, the cost of the lake increases with the increase in the real estate value. It is now easy to understand the disappearing lakes phenomenon so conspicuous in Bangalore.

RKCHARI's picture


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The only way to ensure lakes in Bangalore are rejuvenated, restored to its prestine glory of attractive water bodies in today's urban living context is to literally improve the water quality as well as the entire area surrounding the lake by attracting massive investment, using the best available technology and not feeling that handing over the rejuvenation and maintenance to the best technology in the world somehow compromises one's sovereignty over the lakes.

International Commercial organisations are not interested in possessing land (unlike NICE which happens to be an Indian Company!!). Are we so weak as to believe our whole city will be taken for a ride? And being afraid of such a percieved belief, we refuse to do anything about it?

I think some soul searching must be done by people in authority and environmentalists who object to anything foreign because they believe every foreign company is a potential East India Company of yore!



psaram42's picture

Rejuvenation is not an issue in reality. But Pollution is.

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 The point taken by Chari sir is well taken. However I would like to make an observation here. It is rather sad that the pollution of the lakes in question is perpetrated by BBMP in the first place. This crime is being repeatedly committed each day till now. It is going to be committed day after day till we the general public is made aware of it. I hope that day of awareness is going to come sooner the better. 

We need to solve this problem of sewage water being let into the storm water drains by BBMP itself. 

There are records of hundreds of complaints piled at BBMP on this issue. First this lacuna needs to be sorted out.

RKCHARI's picture

I Agree

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Yes, part of solving the lake rejuvenation problem is in getting all illegal drains / sewage lines to stop pouring their dirty water into the lake. Actually, even storm water that currently enters lakes through open drains is polluted as the longer it travels from the point of source (where rain falls) to point of discharge (the lake) the more contaminant it becomes. Exposure to sun leading to photosynthesis and algae formation followed by human being throwing all and sundry garbage into such open drains adds to the pollution. On top of that BWSSB sewage lines get connected and join the polluting corus of water!

How much more unhygienic can it get?

I personally do not think public pressure on BWSSB / BBMP is going to change the storm water drains overnight. Some committed person in power supported by political bosses (who may see another avenue to line their pockets if they support new technology) would have to take some bold initiative to tackle this problem. It is endemic and cannot be solved piece-meal and step by step.

Ciao and sorry for sounding so pessimistic!


psaram42's picture

I am totally with you on all the points.

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 However let us be very clear about the various issues involved. 

  1. It is illegal on the part of BBMP to drill holes in their own sewage pipes and there by connecting sewage line to SWDs.
  2. BBMP is sitting on number of complaints from the affected parties.
  3. I think we in PRAJA understand the implications.
  4. Praja need to act on this issue
  5. Whether or not this solution is satisfactory or not is a different issue. This should never be mixed up
  6. Whether the above changes the SWD position overnight or not is not a valid reason for not acting. Period
  7. We should not mince our words about “lining ones pockets”.
  8. A political solution for Party funds should be worked out separately 
  9. I wish we get some more participants than just two of us in this debate.
sanjayv's picture

water management is important

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The original post is absolutely right, I agree.  It is urgently improtant to have better water management and to protect Bangalore's water resources.  The problem is a fairly vast one.  I am presently in the process of educating myself and summarizing what I learn in the Bangalore Water book of gyan.

A key point:  The BWSSB has the charter by law to supply water to Bangalore and to treat and safely dispose the sewage. I do not believe the BBMP is responsible for the sewage.  This situation is a problem in itself - the responsibility for water in Bangalore is in the hand od a board which is constituted by the legislature and answerable to it.  However, the people with the most incentive and suffering the consequences are the citizens of Bangalore. 

Among other things, there is a serious need for administrative reform where BWSSB is answerable to the citizens of Bangalore through the elected corporators of the BBMP.

RKCHARI's picture


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I agree with Sanjay 100%. It is a humongurous problem with multiple agencies being responsible. We need to insist on people being able to interface with only one omnibus agency under whom the different agencies can operate - someone like the Administrator of Bangalore whose main job should be to do the interfacing.

I however doubt whether technically it is possible for BWSSB or any agency to "drill a hole in concrete 6" sewage pipelines" as PSA is suggesting. It is physically not possible as the pipe will break completely if one were to drill a hole.

If manhole traps are getting clogged, part of it is our fault as we Indians have terrible toilet habits. We try and shove everything including sanitary napkins through the sewage pipeline all of which leads to clogging of manholes. I say this having experienced it first hand even in an upmarket gated complex that I live in! We have had to get suction pipes to suck out the muck and you would not believe the kind of stuff we fished out!

What BWSSB does wrong however is the fact that in some colonies, instead of connecting the sewage pipeline to the main sewage pipeline going all the way to KC Valley treatment plant, they just let it out into open drains / raja kalves etc.

Just like we suggest bringing the civic agencies to book by pointing out their mistakes, I wonder whether Praja can simultaneously try to educate the general public at large about clean toilet usage habits, not throwing garbage around and not spitting on roads etc. That kind of civic work amongst ourselves too is equally important.

As they say, one cannot clap with only one hand.



Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

479 districts in India have contaminated ground water...

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Media report:  Deccan Chronicle/6-8-09/pg.6

According to Central Ground Water Authority's Water Quality Assessment Authority, ground water in 479 districts in India is contaminated and obviously not fit for human consumption.

Toppers who are over-exploiting  ground water (including the contaminated ground water from identified districts) include Karnataka, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. 

59 Districts in Uttar Pradesh, 49 in Madhya Pradesh, 35 in Rajasthan, 30 in Tamil Nadu, 30 in Maharashtra, 29 in Bihar.

Questions: According to BWSSB Mission Statement, after periodical quality assessment of ground water being used by people, if the ground water is found contaminated, a prominent board has to be exhibited that THIS BOREWELL WATER IS NOT FIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.  

- Is this being done?

- If not why not?

- Are tests actually being conducted?

- from how many such contaminated ground water wells the BWSSB itself if drawing water and for what purpose?

- Over to  PSA and RKC and Prajas.

-Vasanth Mysoremath

psaram42's picture

The overall perspective a reminder

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It is important to keep in mind the overall picture of the resource under discussion. Ease of Maintenance, cost etc are in fact some of the important design parameters. Government on the other hand should demand and get a workable, cost effective proposal. 

There was a Bellandur resident’s protest march recently regarding pollution of the lake. In this thread shall we stick to making the best cost effective choice of several available design choices and evolve suitable policies?

Mr. Chari has brought the user dimension to the overall problem. While accepting that it is a valid point both parties should do better!! 

RKCHARI's picture

Ground Water Contamination

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I am sure most of you know, but just to avoid confusion, I would like to point out the following:

1. When the Central Ground Water Authority says "ground water in 479 districts is contaminated..." what they mean is chemical contamination caused by raw chemicals like fluoride, arsenic, sodium, lead, nitrates etc. They are not talking about bateriological contaminants caused by the mixing of sewage water with drinking water due to cracks in pipelines etc.

2. What we have been addressing primarily is remodelling of storm water drains and ensuring that sewage pipelines are only connected to treatment units and not to open drains or directly into lakes.

3. While Chemical contaminants are possible due to industrial effluents, in most cases, at borewell level of say 300 to 500 feet below ground, chemical contaminants in ground water is primarily due to the geological conditions of the area. This is something we can only solve by having efficient water treatment equipment and frequent testing of borewell water that is being drawn.

4. In Rajasthan, borewell water being drawn by handpumps in vilkages, when found not fit for human consumption is immediately declared as such and the relevant handpump is painted red. Every villager knows he cannot draw water from such red coloured handpumps.I presume Central Ground Water Authorities must have devised some such system for every state.

5. In Karnataka, the responsibility of organising periodical testing of ground water is with the Department of Mines and Geology. They do conduct tests, but there is no follow through of cases where ground water is contaminated.

6. That is why advocacy of installing sustainable rainwater harvesting systems becomes imperative. Now that Karnataka State Assembly has made it mandatory for every home to have RWH systems, I hope there would be less pressure on borewell water.

My two penny worh!



RKCHARI's picture

Further News on groundwater

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Have you all read the news item in today's Deccan Herald (page 3 - under the heading " Pits Recharge Groundwater")?

As you can see the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) is actually recommending what I have been promoting as our technology (albeit their suggestion is more basic and if I may say so, somewhat in a crude fashion!)?

Digging pits on either side of roadsand filling it with gravel / sand etc, as suggested by Dr. Hunse (Regional Director, CGWB) will only partially solve storm water runoff problems. Whereas, placing a series of infiltration tanks for immediate collection of 100% of rain that falls and 'perching' of rainwater in the tanks before gradual disbursal to groundwater table is much more practical and effective.

The authorities finally are seeing sense, it would seem


Srivatsava's picture

Save Lakes by 'exploiting' them.

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As part of our lake rejuvenation discussion, we have been talking only on sewage being flown into lakes, Storm water management etc. These are genuine and correct identification of problems. But, on the question of HOW TO adress these problems, I have my own thoughts.

* Most of our lakes are not open to public use. Allowing people to use the lake and its vicinity will be the first step required. Once people start using a place, it will be easy for us to 'ensure' that the lake and the surrounding are clean and deviod of sewage.

* BWSSB is facing a severe shortage of water to supply to the city, more so because the city limits have extended significantly with the formation of 'Bruhat Bengaluru'. One of the options to handle this has been to leverage the large number of lakes in the city. Recycling water is very common in most world cities, we should let the BWSSB use the lake waters for daily supply to the city and the recycled water should be relaesed back into the lakes. Once lakes are made as an important source of water for city needs, BWSSB itself will find out ways to ensure the cleanliness of water.

* We all know that flowing water will always be clean, and that water should not stagnate. Most of lake waters now are 'stagnant'. To beat this, we need to come up with commertially viable options. One thing that comes to my mind is boating. Allowing boating in our lakes will create recreational activities for young kids ( compensating the loss of playgrounds), employment opportunities etc.

Another option could be to build 'rajakaluve's (10-20 feet wide; 10-20 feet deep) connecting the lakes. This will allow us to build Sewage treatment plants away from the lakes (wherever land is available).

* Most of the large apartment complexes(be it Sobha, Mantri, Purva etc) that have come in the outskirts of the city are in the vicinity of lakes. This is because these depend greating on ground water for their requirements and release the waste water back into the lakes, without need for high capacity sanitary pits.

If these have water treatment plants, I am sure many of these are not being utilised completely. We can start diverting some amount of 'public sewage' into these private treatment plants and then legally allow them to push as much recycled water into the lakes as they want.

To put these in a simple way, let put the lakes into use in some or the other form, and then evrything will fall into place.

-Srivatsava V

sanjayv's picture

exploiting lakes

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 I agree partly with what Srivatsava is saying, to the extent that we have to make the lakes a part of our daily lives and recreation to "save" them from destruction.  However, currently, there is a desparate need to repair a few things before lakes can even be opened up.

The numbers are roughly like this.  Assume Bangalore consumes 1000 MLD (Million Litres Per Day) of water (including Cauvery, borewells, tanker water etc.).  Typically, the rule of thumb appears to be that 80% of this water becomes sewage.  Rest is consumed.  We are talking of 800 MLD of water that came into the city that now has to be disposed off in one way or the other.  Currently, some of this water goes through a proper sewage system and the rest goes through storm water drainage and finally goes into some lake or the other. (most of Bangalore's storm water drainage connects to the lakes).  Without proper separation of Sewage and Storm Water, the limited treatment plants that are available treat everything.  On the days it rains, I am sure the STPs get overwhelmed and raw sewage goes into the lakes.

With proper design and some re-engineering to undo the harm done by thoughtless encroachment, the lakes can serve as a valuable means of recycling some of the treated sewage, recharging ground water etc.  However, before that, there is a vital need to separate sewage and storm water.  Most lakes are said to have a layer of nasty materials at their bottom through years of sewage (remember, in a city like Bangalore, often sewage can have other wastes as well -such as oil from the neighbohood mechanics shop etc.). The lakes have to be remediated, rehabilitated and then this whole mechanism designed before anything can be done safely for the citizens to enjoy the lakes as well as benefit from the water.

This is an activity that needs political will, scientific and engineering expertise and money.  How do we begin to push a proper wtaer, sewage and lake management program in this city in an area that appears to be drowning in corruption (pun intended).

psaram42's picture

Is putting cart before the horse a solution?

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  Srivatsa Avare, 

Let me try to address all your points one by one wrtBellandur Lake in specific:- 

1.       Allowing Public Use:-

a.       You have a point. However one should understand that there has been a lot of encroachment in the Bellandur Lake area already. I have taken some pains to go round the full Bellandur Lake and put up the pictures in my previous posts. I am particularly happy at least the portion of theLake with the Army is safe and tidy. The government has no proper control in other areas of the lake. In fact the land records need to be looked in to by the Lokaukta. Lokaukta is on record saying that “They can even sell the Vidhana Soudha”

b.       There is an IISc report about the Bellandur Lake water. There may be Industrial pollutants apart from sewage based Nitrogen content etc. You need to look at it

c.        There is a tender for fencing the lake to establish the boundary.

d.       Right now the Lake is a source of grass for cows in Indiranagar and other near by areas all around the Lake.

e.       Probably one can swim or boat in the lake if prepared to take the health hazard.

f.         This Lake is used as a dumping ground and is being encroached upon daily. Please see my picture available on PRAJA site.

g.       I appreciate Srivatsa’s confidence in our government.

2.       BWSSB and severe shortage of Drinking water

a.       Lakes were there for the purpose of the Drinking Water needs, in good old days.

b.       There was a fish market in BL area in olden days. Links for pictures of these are available in Praja if one looks for it.

c.        The Bellandur Lake water being used as DW purposes and rearing fish stopped when the lake was used for dumping sewage through the storm water drains.

d.       Our people went right royally for Cauvery water, for the cities need  of DW.

e.       Now the Bellandur Lake water is not safe for humans, even to come in contact with.

3.       Flowing Water is always clean.

a.       True if not mixed with sewage

b.       So which is first? Boating?

4.       Raja Kaluves? Will that be with sewage?

5.       Apartments.

Please see the IISc report. The apartments near by Bellandur Lake depend upon Bore well water mainly. These apartments are recycling sewage water for flushing purpose internally. The  apartment sewage is treated and sold as manure, by the apartments. There is no need to transport the recycled water to BL. It is recycled within the apartment complex.

6.       Sewage Treatment

There are two Sewage water treatment plants in KC Valley discharging treated water in to the Bellandur lake. This capacity is not sufficient. There are 20 other SWD discharging untreated sewage water into BL. Please have a look at my posts on the subject.

I think we need a meet with BWSSB to sort out these issues in the near future.


RKCHARI's picture

Good Points

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PSA Avare,

Excellent points brought out succinctly.

I was surprised to learn that presently Lakes in Bangalore are not allowed for public use. No wonder they are in such a state of disrepair! Unless people are allowed to use the lakes either for swimming, boat riding or water surfing etc, how can it ever be kept clean? Can you imagine swimming pools in 5-Star Hotels not being used at all?

Fencing lakes is a retrograde step. Human nature always wants to defy what they are not supposed to do. Consequently, fencing lakes will make people throw solid garbage over the fence when no one is looking! And several people get a vicarious pleasure in 'breaking' the fencing just for the heck of it!

Lake water essentially should consist of rainwater and some highly treated grey water (water from kitchen sink, shower, wash basin only - not flush water). Flush water and sewage water is normally classified as black water. That can only be treated and used for industrial purposes.

Using Lake water for drinking purposes is not advisable unless it once again goes through a rigourous treatment process.

Raja Kaluves should be proscribed in toto, I think. As citizens we just do not have the culture of maintaining open canals and waterways running through a city, clean. Can you imagine how much land will be released if all Raja Kaluve's can be covered, underground waterways?

The list to improve Lakes is long and we have miles to go!




idontspam's picture

Fencing lakes

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 Consequently, fencing lakes will make people throw solid garbage over the fence when no one is looking

Fencing is only to demarcate boundaries. The idea is not to have a soundproof or light proof barrier.

I agree 100% with the thought that the lake needs to be used. But what kind of use? While we allow it to be used we should take care not to include too much concrete into the surroundings. When you have a jogging path and people are using the perimeter it will be safer than when left alone.

While I appreciate Nagvara is being used there is too much man made concrete introduced and too many shops selling producing waste as a by product. The lake is only an addedd attraction to the theme park. Let it out to water sports organzations instead who can organize canoeing, kayaking, recreational swimming and a boardwalk by the side for relaxing. Dont approve more than 1 or 2 stores selling basic food items. The water has to be primary. 

sanchitnis's picture

Lakes need to be living ecosystems

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 Whether inside city or inside forests, lakes need to have a complete ecosystem for it to remain healthy. See

Aquatic birds are 'tigers' of the lentic ecosystem. If they cannot survive, there will be imbalance of fish/water plats/algae/microorganisms etc.

We are still dealing with physical security issues (land grabbing) and proper disposal of drainage, so we have long way to go. 

In present circumstances, non-polluting public use such as parks etc. seems to be the best way to save them from grab and drainage.

Sanjay Chitnis

RKCHARI's picture

100% correct

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Dear Sanjay,

You are 100% right in mentioning the fact that Lakes have to be a complete ecosystem for it to be healthy.

What a wonderful city Bangalore will become if this could be somehow made the underlying philosophy of development!

I wonder if we can have a system in Praja whereby majority opinion (and sensible opinions like these) could somehow be conveyed / dinned into the concerned authorities. They wont listen the first time, but sustained effort might just pay off and somewhere the penny might drop!

Best wishes




sanjayv's picture

meet with BWSSB?

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 @ PSA sir,

  You were coordinating some efforts to meet with BWSSB regarding Bellandur lake.  I am curious as to whether your efforts have been succesful thus far?  After some reading and research on the water area in Bangalore, I can think of the following areas for us to focus on.

1. Try to develop a relationship with the BWSSB and understand Bangalore's watr and sewage system better

2. Understand the status of sewage remodeling projects (the design, water treatment and ultimate disposal of the treated water) and track those either through RTI or directly engaging with BWSSB.  I think sewage will in effect include lakes!

3. Get an idea of storm water drainage design from BBMP and track the remodeling of those as well (since sewage and storm water are intermingled in our fair city) and see if we can influence desinn and best practices in this area.

4. Track the new rain water harvesting law that has been implemented - if I am right, there will be formation of rules and all the finer details which will make this law a success or failure.

5. Track Cauvery Stage iV, Phase II.

6. More importantly, I think there is an urgent need for public education as well as bringing all the stake holders under a unified umbrella. Th state of sewage and lakes is a major crisis with implications for the whole city.  Only a revolution will force our people as well as "leaders" to pay attention and allocate resources to this issue.  The load ahead is long and arduous and we should have started on it yesterday.

RKCHARI's picture

Crisp & Valid Summary

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Hi Sanjay,

You could not have put it more succinctly. All points are very valid and I hope someday our efforts will result in BWSSB also thinking in a coordinated manner.

It is so simple. Why cant the authorities see that storm water drains, roads remodelling and lakes rejuvenation is all part and parcel of one major thrust towards better infrastructure in those fields?

PSA garu - any inputs you require from me in the event of your meeting BWSSB guys, I would be happy to help.




psaram42's picture

High Time to spur the BWSSB to wake up

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 Waiting for the facilitators is taking time. In the mean while could we take this forward? How about meeting at BWSSB Cauvery Bhavan, to day at 4PM? Call me at:- 

LL 4126-9814 Mobile 96329-65318 

Chari sir is it possible to make a reminder to the Letter  handed over at the BWSSB office by you earlier?

We will talk to the PA again for an appointment. 

Naveen's picture

I can go with you on monday

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PSA Sir,

Today 4PM may not be possible for me.

If you set up an appointment first, I am willing to come - preferably monday or wednesday (I have a family engagement on tuesday).
RKCHARI's picture

Extremely Sorry

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Dear Mr. Ananthram,

When I sent you the above blog reference, I had not imagined you would want to meet today itself! Sorry I too am unable to make it as I have a Board meeting from 4 p.m. onwards.

After 10 a.m. tomorrow or anytime Monday onwards would be fine.

Extremely sorry for the inconvenience.

My letter was to CE, Major Roads, BBMP. Do you want that one? I have not given any letter to anyone in BWSSB in recent times. Long ago we had given them a proposal for RWH at Cauvery Bhawan itself. I had met one Mr. Amruthesh in this connection, apart from the erstwhile CMD - Ms Lalitha Krishnan.

Will get in touch with you over weekend




sanjayv's picture

@ PSA, Cannot make it today

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Dear PSA sir, Sorry I cannot make it today.  Will also be on travel most of next week.  I will call you up this weekend to talk a bit more. comment guidelines

Posting Guidelines apply for comments as well. No foul language, hate mongering or personal attacks. If criticizing third person or an authority, you must be fact based, as constructive as possible, and use gentle words. Avoid going off-topic no matter how nice your comment is. Moderators reserve the right to either edit or simply delete comments that don't meet these guidelines. If you are nice enough to realize you violated the guidelines, please save Moderators some time by editing and fixing yourself. Thanks!

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