With the ground water table depleting fast in the area and the Cauvery Stage IV Phase II not completely operational yet, residents of Whitefield have been forced to depend on private water tankers to fulfil their water needs. The better-off buy water from private suppliers, while the poor too have little choice but to shell out a large chunk of their earnings on water.
Devaraya S. Kotian (68) has been a resident of Ambedkar Gutte for the past 12 years. “This area is cursed. When I shifted here 12 years ago, we used to get water at 200 feet and now you should be lucky to get water even after 1,200 feet. So the only source is private tankers who charge anywhere between Rs. 350 and Rs. 700 in summer,” he said. Mr. Kotian said the government had left them “orphans.”
The Cauvery Phase IV covers the area and pipe connections have been laid. However, Mr. Kotian says the area being on a higher altitude, the water should be pumped up and the authorities have done nothing to facilitate that.
The situation is no different across many rural pockets in the area. Sujata, a shopkeeper in Vijayanagar, said people are allowed to fetch only 10 pots of water once a week from the lone borewell close by. Ms. Sujata says she is forced to buy bottled water for cooking and drinking, as the ration of public borewell water she gets is hard.
“I spend Rs. 30 on just drinking water every day. Added to this, we are forced to buy water from private tankers paying Rs 350 a tanker.” This adds up to anywhere from Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 2,000 a month.
Lalita, a resident of Gandhipuram, said she travels three km with her cousins on bicycles every day to fetch drinking water on bicycles from Ambedkar Nagar, since water in the public borewell nearby is hard. “We have to even pay a bribe to be allowed to fetch water from the public borewell there,” she said.
A study in contrast
Whitefield is a study in contrast with posh villas, row houses and gated communities springing up as islands among what is largely a rural area.
The pattern of water usage is also starkly different. Nitya, working with Whitefield Rising, a citizens’ collective, said studies in the area have shown that the average consumption of water in the residential colonies has been up to even 1,500 litres/per day for every household, while the poor use 300 litres a day as they cannot afford to buy more.
With borewells sunk at random without any planning, and private tankers drawing water from several of them, residents are concerned about the groundwater situation in the area.
Rajesh Shah, a water conservation expert and a resident of Laughing Waters, a gated community in the area, said the only way out was to educate the middle class and the rich to take to water conservation. “Our residential colony is unplanned. As many as 70 borewells are already sunk on the 30-acre area. Most of them are dry. Recently we held a dharna and convinced a new resident not to dig up one more borewell,” he said.