Despite a steep increase in underground water exploitation and a rise in illegal water tankers, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB) have failed to tackle the issue, putting both ecology and human health at stake.
Interestingly, the issue used to originally be reported by residents from extensions or outskirts of Bengaluru. But now uncontrolled (and illegal) water exploitation by tankers have been reported from the city's core areas as well.
The heart of the issue is simple - with no regulations controlling them and no civic agencies apparently even keeping track of them, many private water supply tankers have not only begun doubling their rates but have also started supplying water from Bengaluru's extremely polluted lakes.
The consumption of this water, without extensive filtering, will certainly cause many disorders or diseases, as lake water in Bengaluru is mostly toxic.
As Priyanka Jamwal, scientist at ATREE who had conducted a survey near borewells in industrial areas of Bengaluru noted -
"The underground water in these surroundings are unfit for drinking, and still tankers are drawing the water. These should be stopped,"
Lashing at the BBMP and BWSSB for their negligence, refusal to implement the 2012 underground water regulator bill and succumbing to private players, she said,"The public accounts committee directed the concerned agency to take necessary action. But still, there is no response from any government agency,"
Asianet Newsable spoke some residents around the city about how the tankers operate.
"I own flats in my building, and the regular water supply from BWSSB is not sufficient as there is a staggered supply. Hence I get water from a private supplier once in two days. A truckload of water, measuring 6,000 litres, costs Rs 1,200. The same used to cost Rs 600 last year. Although we get a good quantity of water from private players, the quality is not good. The water is grey, and we have to filter and boil before consumption," said Narayan, a house owner from Chamrajpet.
Chandrashekhar G, a resident of Ramamurthy Nagar, also echoed similar sentiments and said that the area was recently connected to a Cauvery pipeline but water supply to his house was still irregular.
"We are forced to depend on private water tankers, and they charge a bomb during an emergency," he said.
Such blatant acts happen due to a lack of oversight. As Jagadish Reddy, a member of 'White Field Rising' and a Varthur resident, stated - there was no one to monitor the exploitation of underground water from Ramagundanahalli, Thubrahalli and Varthur.
The BWSSB, which is responsible for the supply of water to residents, says that it is also taking care of those areas where a Cauvery pipeline is yet to reach.
"We have 15 tankers, and we supply freely. But private water suppliers are also supplying water, and we have no control over those water tankers and the quality of water they supply. It is a BBMP responsibility," said Tushar Girinath, Chairman, BWSSB.
BBMP Mayor G Padmavathi also expressed helplessness over the issue. The mayor, who has received complaints of a 'tanker mafia', blamed Assistant Executive Engineers (AEE) of each area for the thriving 'tanker mafia'.
"We will place these issue before the monthly council meeting and direct the AEE's to crack the whip of such tankers. The players will be asked to get trade license, and once these happens, there will be regulation on tapping of underground water and also its quality supply," she said.