Migrant workers in Bellandur’s  Kariyammana Agrahara suffer a severe water crisis.
Migrant workers in Bellandur’s Kariyammana Agrahara suffer a severe water crisis.Express

Water crisis forces migrants to move away from Bengaluru

Water drums are a fixture in front of each shed, where labourers and their families reside.

BENGALURU: The acute water shortage Bengaluru has been grappling with is driving migrant workers away from the city.

These labourers, who had settled down at Bellandur’s Kariyammana Agrahara, have been going back to their hometowns or elsewhere as they are unable to pay high amounts for water, both drinking and other necessities.

Water drums are a fixture in front of each shed, where labourers and their families reside. But only 14 out of 40 drums get filled once every three days, said a labourer. Around 60 families of migrant labourers stay here, he added.

The area, apart from bustling IT hubs and high-rise residential buildings, is also home to a large number of migrant workers from West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam. But the acute water shortage has forced them to look for livelihood in other cities.

“Throughout Ramzan, we paid Rs 120 each day to get clean water so we could clean ourselves before offering namaz. The taps here are just showpieces and no water has flowed through them in the last two months. The borewells have dried, the price of water for every 10-litre can at RO units has gone up from Rs 10 to Rs 30 and water tankers have increased their rates from Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 for a 4,000-litre load. Out of 70 families here, around 10 have returned to their hometowns in North India as the money they were sending home was being used to buy water,” said Nagma, who hails from Assam and earns Rs 12,000 per month.

Borah, also from Assam and who works as a housekeeper in Bellandur, said, “We can afford to buy water only once a week. The RO unit is open only three times a week. We do not even have sufficient water to boil rice, forget about cooking a proper meal. There is no piped water supply. Both the landowner and authorities have ignored our problems.”

Vijay, 32, a daily wager and who hails from Howrah in West Bengal, has been staying in the city for over two years.

“I moved here because I get around Rs 1,100, compared to just Rs 750 in my hometown. I have two kids aged 5 and 8. Every other day, we have to pay for water. How can we reduce consumption? We compromised on baths and laundry. But still, being a family of five, we need at least 40 litres of drinking water every week. The RO unit is just a a few metres away but it is not operational the whole day.”

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