BENGALURU: Balaji Layout, located off Kanakpura Road, comes under Yeshwanthpur Assembly constituency and is one of the few layouts in the city to have its own drinking water plant. Though Cauvery water reaches the entire city after passing through this area, these 31 layouts face water scarcity. None of the houses in any of the layouts have Bangalore Water Supply and Sewarage Board connection.
An overhand tank, into which Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Pallike’s trucks pump in 20,000 litres a day, is the main source of water supply for 500 residents. The water is supplied to the houses from here, only that it couldn’t be used for drinking. So, the residents fought long and hard for a water purification plant to be attached to the water plant.
The water plant was the result of a meeting held with MLA ST Somashekhar in March 2015. Residents of more than 15 layouts, including Balaji Layout, Bangalore Co-operative Housing Society and Bangalore City Muncipal Co-operation Cooperative Society, were present.
A video taken by a resident shows a heated exchange between the MLA and the residents. The elected representative seems taken aback by how this issue had gathered so many people. He heard out all the grievances and offered a quick fix to the longstanding shortage of drinking water.
Three months after the meeting, in August, a water plant was placed at the entrance of the layout, next to an overhead tank. It cost around Rs 12 Lakh. Today, Balajai Layout draws drinking water from this point and the constituency is set to get two more such plants for other layouts.
On a daily basis, 5,000 litres are required for this layout alone and only for drinking. So far, the water plant address a large part of this need.
The residents used to earlier rely on costly private water tankers. “This plant has lessened shortage to some extent. Every month, I used to pay Rs 7,000 for water from tankers, and it was mostly contaminated,” says VK Srivatsa, General secretary of the Balaji Layout RWA.
Making Park Safe
There was an open drain that ran along the layout on Kanakpura Main Road.
In 2014, the residents invited the local MLA Somashekhar for a presentation in which they highlighted all their civic issues, among them the open drain.
Immediately, the MLA sanctioned funds to cover the drain. But, strangely enough, Rs 50 lakh that was alloted for it was exhausted after covering a one-km stretch.
A portion of the drain that is still open runs along a children’s park.
“Children play in the park and the six-foot deep drain opening at the entrance could be fatal,” says Srivatsa.
Layouts’ residents have tried time and time again to get a BWSSB connection -- the water tank is a poor compensation.
In 2011, after repeated visits to government offices, the then MLA Shobha Karandlaje asked Bangalore Development Authority (under which the layout was at that time) for funds to provide Cauvery water supply to the layouts.
Then, BDA released Rs 1.17 crore to BWSSB for a detailed project report alone.
Meanwhile Karandlaje had resigned and the new minister Suresh Kumar put this project under cold storage.
After repeated follow ups by the residents of Balaji Layout, Kumar sent a letter to the BWSSB to check if the Cauvery line was feasible. For the next two years, the BWSSB did not seem to be getting ahead with the water supply, the report was soon approved by the BDA in 2015, but then the residents hit another hurdle -- BDA said they were short of funds.
As a last resort, residents approached the former Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda who had given the go-ahead to the project approved during his tenure.He wrote to the BDA Chairman.
The residents are still waiting.