While the Karnataka government is confident it can supply water to meet the needs of Bengaluru and other districts till the onset of the monsoon, things on the ground look extremely bleak. As of the beginning of March, the four dams that supply water to Bengaluru and surrounding districts have just about 11.7 tmc feet of water. The KRS dam has only 7.15 tmc feet of water, the Kabini has 0.95 tmc feet, Hemavati has 2.28 tmc feet and Harangi has only 1.32 tmc feet of water.
Bengaluru needs 1.58 tmc feet of water per month which adds up to 4.74 tmc feet till the end of May. Now water from the reservoir must also be shared with Mysuru, Mandya, Maddur, Channapatna and Ramanagaram as well. That means only around 6 tmc feet of water is available for the other districts for the next three months. But the water resources ministry as well as the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board are optimistic in handling the situation.
Water Resources Minister MB Patil said there is enough water for drinking purposes and there is no need to panic. He told India Today that the need of the hour is to 'use water judiciously for the next few months'. When asked if the authorities might go in for rationing if things turn really bad, he said that meetings are being held every day between the BWSSB and the Water Resources department and they are 'reviewing and will alter (decisions) accordingly'.
They are also basing their calculations and hope on the records available with Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Limited officials who have assured the BWSSB that water will be available to Bengaluru for the next three months. Kemparamaiah, engineer in chief BWSSB, told India Today that, as per their (CNNL) records for the past 50 years, there may be some inflow in the months of April and May with approximately 2 tmc feet of water and that he said might help to tide over the crisis.
But not wanting to only hope for the rains that have played truant, the BWSSB has already given the go ahead to drill 100 borewells in the city and have also empanelled drilling agencies to do the work.
The Cauvery river flows through Mandya district while the Kabini river tributary is in Mysuru district. With Bengaluru located at 3,000 feet above sea level, the water needs to be pumped upwards of 1,500 feet from TK Halli. Many consider this Asia's biggest pumping exercise to lift 1400 MLD water upwards to the city each and every day. To do all this work, constant electricity supply is needed and Kemparamaiah has requested the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited to provide them with uninterrupted power supply throughout the summer season.
TANKERS TO DELIVER
Another contingency plan put into motion by the BWSSB is the use of private water tankers during the peak summer. "We have requested the Deputy Commissioner who has the power to take over private tankers to do so if we are in dire straits," he revealed.
The BWSSB requires around 60-80 water tankers in the month of April and that number goes up to almost 150 in the month of May.
The city today has 3.29 lakh private borewells in addition to 7900 public borewells in slums and on main roads. The BWSSB has categorically stated that they will not take over private borewells but sources said that this might be the last resort if the need arises.