Karnataka water crisis worsens; house owner thrashes NE student for using excessive water

Asmita Sarkar
Karnataka water crisis worsens; house owner thrashes NE student for using excessive water

A report on Monday said that due to the shortage of water in Bengaluru, water rationing may be done this summer. The repercussion of water shortage was, however, felt by a student from Arunachal Pradesh quite acutely when his house owner allegedly beat him up and forced him to lick his shoes on March 6 for using excessive water. 

"What happened to him was inhuman, I have trust in the police and I hope the culprit won't be spared," said the Father of Arunachal student. A case was registered against house owner Hemanth Kumar. He is out on bail. 

The Congress-led Karnataka government had promised uninterrupted water supply despite low water levels in reservoirs that hold Cauvery water. However, water shortage is imminent with water levels at Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) and Kabini reservoirs nearing dead storage.

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The BWSSB is reportedly going to drill more borewells in Bengaluru to access ground water to supply to the city. Mysuru and Bengaluru will be most affected by the dangerously low levels of water in the reservoirs.

According to Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC), KRS storage was 5.932 tmcft compared to 17.11 tmcft in February last year. The total capacity of KRS is 45.05 tmcft. While Kabini reservoir has 2.32 tmcft as against 5.56 tmcft last year, its total capacity is 15.67 tmcft.

The KRS storage has water for little more than two months for Bengaluru alone, which requires 2tmcft water every month.

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Why are reservoirs dry?

Due to high temperatures, water is getting evaporated and because of leakages during transmission, the reservoirs are expected to hit dead storage sooner than expected.

Without pre-monsoon showers, Bengaluru and Mysuru are in major trouble. Once water level in KRS reaches 5.59 tmc, no water should be drawn as aquatic life lives in 1 tmcft below this level, according to experts. Dead storage is at 4.4 tmcft.  

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How is BWSSB going to solve the water crisis?

The BWSSB's plan, in case water levels go below dead storage, is to drill more borewells. According to BWSSB Chairman Tushar Girinath, there are around 7,920 borewells in BBMP limits. "We did a survey of these borewells and found 938 to be non-functional. We will see if they can be revived,'' he said.

"We might drill 200-400 borewells depending on the crisis and water demand,'' he said. BBMP councillors will also drill two to three borewells in their areas. BWSSB is planning to take help from private tankers to supply to areas that need water critically.

Even though there might be water wastage, the Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited (CNNL) proposed to pump water from KRS reservoir to Shivanakate canal and then towards TK Halli."

Water expert Capt Raja Rao said that borewells may not be the answer to the water crisis. While water was available at 200 m below, now its available at 800 m. 

BWSSB accused of water rationing

While the government had assured that there will be uninterrupted water supply, the BWSSB is reportedly rationing water supply by cutting down supply to two hours instead of three. 

"In normal times, water is supplied for three hours from 5.30am. Nowadays, we get water for two hours, with low pressure. As a result, residents towards the end of the distribution line are not getting enough water, particularly those who do not have pumps to draw water.The quality of water is also a worry," said KV Jagadish of the Hebbal Residents' Welfare Association.

Rising temperatures and failed borewells have led to increased water demand. Low water pressure and complaints of reduced water is related to increased demand, said BWSSB chairman Tushar Girinath.

He said that the BWSSB has been pumping 1,300 and 1,350 million litres every day since February but there is a problem in equitable water supply. 

Without pre-monsoon showers, the cut in water supply will get worse in April. The board is trying to supply water to slums and other areas. 

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