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Now that rains have saved Bangalore, forget about it?

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We came "this" close to going dry this summer. How close? Don't really know, but the word is that if rains had arrived 10 days later, we would have hit that point. But now that rains are here, newspapers, BWSSB, KNNL (Neeravari Nigam) will all move on and wait for a crisis to approach next year or year after depending on when we would have the next monsoon shortfall.

Some pics of dry KRS gates for your viewing pleasure, taken just last week.



Shouldn't we be interested in knowing:

  • Did we indeed come 'close'?
  • How close was it?
  • What would be the plan if we crossed some "thresholds"?
  • What hard decisions were made if any, like - water supply over hydropower, tapping an irregular or non-approved source for supply?
  • What steps or investments are being planned to reduce the risk?


sanjayv's picture

Lot more questions

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There are many, many questions we need to ask SB.  Water (and waste water) in namma Bengaluru is in bad shape.  Spmehow, because we are "better" than some other cities, people are taking it easy.

There are many problems and solutions.  But the need of the hour is planning, investment, education and so on to ensure that this city an manage into the future.  We have to elaborate on all this and push for it.

silkboard's picture

Lets meet BWSSB

281 users have liked.

Now that the focus is off them (rains are here), time to meet and figure how bad was the situation, and if anything is in the works as a result.

Nothing much, just a meeting with them. Sent an SMS already, awaiting response.

dvsquare's picture

We are already beyond 'close'

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Why are we saying here - "Did we indeed come 'close'?"

We are already beyond close. Cauvery water is available only for less than half population of bangalore, other half still rely on water tankers and borewells. KRS dam getting dry is visible but water table going below 1000 ft is another problem to be looked at and need to do something to find alternate sources of water.

More and more houses are coming on ORR and Sarjapur road, but no water.

We need to ask them - 

(1) What is their plan to make water reach every household?

(2) What is their plan to get alternate source of water? Lakes? RWH compulsury?

(3) Reduce dependency on Cauvery.

And many more such questions.

s_yajaman's picture

Far from saved

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We've just had a good pre-monsoon - that's it.  Too soon to say that we're saved.  Given BWSSB's monumental incompetence in the past couple of decades (to reduce our dependence on Cauvery), the best bet is to stop depending on it and its schemes.  

Bangalore is blessed with rains from April to October and even early November.   This makes it an ideal city for RWH.  (It has great weather for most of the year and therefore a great city for cycling as well – but that is another topic).

My parents, e.g., have put in a decent rainwater harvesting system that enables them to get at least 50 to 60000l / year.  That is half their annual usage of water.  They of course are nowhere close to this gentleman

Even if not this extreme if one can reduce their usage of Cauvery water by 40% it means that the amount allocated to Bangalore from the Cauvery waters will last double of what it does today. 

On a more personal/selfish level, if your RWH system sees of April, May and June (the water crisis months) it has done its job for you.


Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

silkboard's picture

yes dvs

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Yes DVS, lots to ask. Besides the things you raised, we should also want to know these

  • how bad was the situation this year, in numbers
  • did we come close to going "dry"
  • What is BWSSB or KNNL's definition for "going dry"?
  • What things does KNNL do when we near a "dry" situation?
  • Ditto for BWSSB.

I am hoping that if we understand the definition and repurcissions of "crisis", we can use that to spread some "fear induced responsibilities" around Bangalore on both sides, consumers and distributor/suppliers (BWSSB/KNNL) !


silkboard's picture

spoke to BWSSB, meeting is on

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Spoke to Mr Gupta. Got his take on the "crisis", which apparently was the worst in last 30-40 years. Last similar crisis was back in 2003.

So I plan to send him a list of items for the meetings

  1. data points we want BWSSB to share
  2. specific questions we have for BWSSB

Sending this list in advance will make for a better meeting, for both of us, Mr Gupta as well as us. Let us make the list ASAP. Meeting most likely in the week of June 18.

abidpqa's picture

Some questions. Are there

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Some questions.

Are there only residential connections provided by BWSSB, or do they provide commercial connections? Usually, they say 10 million people need 140 million liters per day, but all the peopler are not getting BWSSB water. If no commercial connections are not there, how water is obtained for commercial purposes? Commercial use will be driving up the per person consumption data

Why not bring bigger restrictions on water like banning washing cars, watering plants etc, at least From April to June. banning common taps in apartments, which is used to wash cars could be very effective.

Are they doing some study about the causes of less rains, relation between increase in cars and decrease in rains ?! or filling up of lakes and decrease in rains. There is need for study with heavy budget to find the reasons.

silkboard's picture

Noted abidpqa, so shall I summarize all now?

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I need to summarize list of data points and questions by EOD today so set up the meeting. I have noted everything so far - will include them, may merge things a bit and reword etc.

Stay tuned.

murali772's picture

my questions

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for BWSSB - How is BWSSB hoping to reduce the "un-accounted for losses", supposedly in the region of 40% currently? Is it looking at outsourcing supply in select areas? What are the details of the L&T deal? What has been the learnings from the water-supply outsourcing exrcises in Hubli-Dharwar, Gulbarga, and Mysore?

for KNNL - The amount of Cauvery water used for drinnking purposes is miniscule compared to that used for irrigation. With reduced availability, shouldn't the riparian districts be switching to lesser water dependent crops than say sugarcane? Besides, shouldn't they be made to adopt drip irrigation, and such techniques than the conventional "field-flooding" type irrigation?

Muralidhar Rao
sanjayv's picture

Can we wait a litttle bit

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I want to put in some inputs.  Will try by end of day today or latest.  Would be great if you can hold off on the questionnaire summary a little bit.


n's picture

Does BWSSB plan to team up

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Does BWSSB plan to team up with BBMP to implement infiltration system than the present runoff system? Runoff may mix with sewerage and is rendered unusable or runs into a lake far away from rain cathment area.  Properly filtered infiltration recharges groundwater locally and also prevents flooding. This allows shallower borewells and slows expensive long-distance transportation of water.

sanjayv's picture

Questions for BWSSB Chairman

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Apart from the ones listed.

a. Is there a standing emergency plan for one year of drought/2 years of drought with BWSSB/ KNNL?

b. What is BWSSB's plan to make RWH succesful? What is the status and next steps?

C. Ground water situation is alarming.  How does BWSSB plan to manage that?

D. It is well known that cost of pumping water is much more than billing rates.  What do the lat few years financial statements look like.  What needs to be done?

E. BWSSB's plan on UFW, unauthorized connections, leakage?

F. STatus of Underground Drainage (UGD/Sewage) works in new area

G. What plans to add and operate sufficient sewage treatment capacity in Bangalore.  Water recycling?

H. Can BWSSB become a more open organization?

I. Plans to tackle the rampant corruption among linemen? Stories abound of water being taken from GLRs and sold in apartments at tanker water rates

J. Plan to regulate tanker water supply?

K. Does BWSSB have a medum and long range plan for water supply?

L. Rejuvenating TG Halli?

M. Reducing pollution in large lakes like Bellandur, Varthur etc. contaminated with sewage?

N. Ground water monitoring and having some technical expertise in house?


murali772's picture

This should have been done long ago

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The state government has decided to make drip irrigation mandatory for sugarcane growers by amending the Karnataka Irrigation Act, 1965. Water Resources Minister M B Patil told reporters on Tuesday that this would save about 186 tmc ft of water every year, but would cost the growers and the government Rs 4,500 crore. The government took this decision as the present system of flood irrigation leads to soil degradation, water logging, increase in salinity and loss of water. Sugarcane is a water intensive crop and is grown in over 4.5 lakh hectares in the state.  He said sugar mills have agreed to stand guarantee to farmers to avail loans to meet the project cost.
For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.
There have not been too many decisions of this government that one can compliment it on. But, this certainly is.
186 tmcft saved is equivalent of almost four times the total storage capacity of KRS dam, which is huge.  Once implememted, the Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamilnadu will become history.
The only question that remains to be asked is why did the government take so long to arrive at this decision. 
Muralidhar Rao
blrpraj's picture

beyond close long ago

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Close to going dry this summer?  I think we passed that point decades ago. It is common sense to everyone that the amount of precipitation via rains is a constant over the past 100s of years and has probaly decreased in fact due to climate change and deforestation. Population has grown exponentially (explosive growth). Plot that in a graph and you get a flat line (for the precipitation) and a line that rises almost vertically (for the population). Long story short is that

1) planners should have seen this coming 30 or 40 years ago.

2) fresh water precipitation is not going to magically increase

3) waste water reclamation after processing; rain water harvesting etc. though noble and helps in some way (doing something is better than doing nothing) cannot meet the massive demand for fresh water.

The most worrisome factor is the projected growth of population ( ) because of which water is going to be a resource more precious that gold, diamon or platinum.

What is the ONLY option left?  Solar powered salt water desalination plants on a massive scale!
The best part is that even the Oil rich Arabs are doing it

My 2 cents? I think Modi needs to shelve the high speed bullet train plans for now and seriously think about developing a national water grid on the lines of an electric grid that is used to distribute electricity. This national water grid must be interconnected and fed by multiple sources such as salt water desalination plants; rains; snow fall etc. and facilitate movement of fresh water between resrevoirs and states for distribution.






murali772's picture

"bandh" not quite the answer; fresh thinking needed

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It is time for the Cauvery River Authority (CRA), which is chaired by the prime minister and has chief ministers of the four states as members, to consider setting up a Cauvery River Livelihood Protection System that incorporates a pricing mechanism and a market for water to protect the livelihoods of farmers and the interests of other water users.

Such a system would involve states being assigned basic quotas of water and be required to purchase additional water from a river resource fund set up for the purpose. Payments by state governments to the river resources fund during the good times are akin to insurance premiums.

The basic quotas would be tradeable, allowing states to exchange water for money. This will allow states the flexibility to expand their agriculture or acquire additional fiscal resources to reform their agriculture sectors.

During droughts and bad monsoons, states will be compensated for the water deficits below their basic quotas, effectively acting as the insurance payout.

States would be able to purchase water above their basic quotas through an auction. Each state would form a bidding committee, chaired by the water resources minister and comprising of the members of the legislative assembly from the concerned constituencies. The states will thus be able to put an objective measure on how much they are willing to pay for the water they demand.

When states choose to receive compensation, the funds would flow into the state’s treasury allowing the state government to use the additional budgetary resources in accordance with its priorities.

To read the full text (emphasis added by me) of the article titled "Cost of Cauvery" by Mr Nitin Pai, in Jan '13, click here. Perhaps, we need to look at such out-of-the-box solutions if we have to have some respite from the repeat inter-state water wars.

The debates in this blog too could make interesting reading in this context.

Muralidhar Rao
amithpallavoor's picture

The 2007 award stipulates 10

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The 2007 award stipulates 10 TMC of water for environmental purposes. This is a joke since 20 TMC of sewage water flows from Bangalore's homes into Cauvery. Much more than 10 TMC is also lost to sand mining in TN.
The SC or people in Delhi are not aware that tributaries of Cauvery such as Arkavathy, Kumudavathy, Shimsha, Kanva, Suvarnamukhi, Vrishabhavathi have all died in the last three decades thanks to unscientific farming methods and rampant urbanization. There was unhindered flow from these rivers into Mettur a few decades back. These rivers flow downstream of KRS. There are so many streams downstream of KRS. I might have missed a few.
amithpallavoor's picture

There is no drinking water in

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There is no drinking water in Madikeri, the source of river Cauvery. Karnataka is much more arid than Haryana with ground water levels at 1000 feet and above. Not to mention that it is a hinterland area. Desalination is not an option nor is RWH effective because of erratic rainfall. 

TN can't keep growing water intensive crops like rice and sugarcane just like Mandya does. There is a drinking water crisis in both Wayanad and Karnataka and as per an SC judgement dated 1996 drinking water takes precedence over cultivation. The humanitarian crisis in Wayanad means that TN’s request for water to grow rice shows lack of humanitarian concern and civility. Problem is TN believes that it can keep demanding water from Kerala and Karnataka for its crops even when there is a humanitarian crisis upstream. They might invest on minor irrigation projects and exert pressure on SC to ensure that Karnata and Kerala not kill rivers through plantations and urbanization.

Jaya was sitting quiet when 50,000 trees were cut for a high tension line in Kodagu. I am sure she also does not care about massive desertification of areas around the tributaries of Cauvery in Bangalore rural, Ramanagar, Bangalore Urban and Tumkur. The warring politicians of all the states concerned care two hoots about the tribals of Wayanad who are facing a crisis worse than the Bundelkhand crisis.

The same logic applies to people of Mandya who want to use Cauvery water for sugarcane. KRS was built by Mysore Maharaja and this water is used to feed Mandya's fields and liquor factories. HD Kote taluk despite having Kabini reservoir and four small streams is completely dependent on rain water for irrigation and ground water for drinking.

I also forgot to mention that one of the judges was Jaya's counsel. Bangalore has water only till January. If TN still wants to grow rice and wants Bangalore to be evacuated then good luck to them. 


amithpallavoor's picture

If our advocacy group had a

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If our advocacy group had a sub group, which had worked continuously on reviving Arkavathy, Kumudvathy, Vrishbhvathy and Shimsha rivers, we could have created awareness just as we did with CRS.

Could we have a project created on the same? We could work on the same with KSNDMC, Neervari Nigam, BWSSB , UAS, Agriculture and Irrigation Ministries. 
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