Surging bills, fewer showers: India’s Bengaluru reels under water shortage

Water tanker dealers have started charging residents in some parts of Bengaluru as much as 2,000 rupees ($24.11) for a 12,000-litre tanker

By REUTERS
February 22, 2024
Workers carry water collected from the Puzhal reservoir outside Chennai, India. — AFP/File

BENGALURU: Bengaluru is facing an acute water shortage this year, months before peak summer, forcing many residents in “India’s Silicon Valley” to ration their water use and pay almost double the usual price to meet their daily needs.

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Weak southwest monsoon rains have dented groundwater levels and reduced water levels in the Cauvery River basin reservoirs that feed the southern Indian city, which is home to roughly 14 million people and thousands of IT companies and start-ups.

That is making residents of the city pay surging prices for water tankers even before the onset of peak summer.

Water tanker dealers have started charging residents in some parts of Bengaluru as much as 2,000 rupees ($24.11) for a 12,000-litre tanker, versus 1,200 rupees ($14.47) a month earlier, according to interviews with a dozen customers. “The worry now is that despite paying, the tanker vendors won’t show up due to scarcity of ground water,” said another Bengaluru resident.

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), the agency responsible for water supply in the city, gets most of its water from the Cauvery River, which originates at Talakaveri in the city’s home state of Karnataka and flows through neighbouring Tamil Nadu before draining into the Bay of Bengal.

In a bid to shore up its supplies in coming months, the BWSSB has appealed to authorities for additional water from the Cauvery basin, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The Karnataka government and BWSSB did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

While the city relies on ground water and supply via tankers to supplement BWSSB supplies during the peak summer months, this year unusually early reports of water shortages have come from building complexes in many parts of the city.Large residential complexes are asking residents to cut down their water usage, and some building managers have hiked water prices to pass on higher costs.

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