Karnataka govt to slap ₹5000 fine on residents using potable water for non-consumption purpose

On 7 March, the government imposed caps on water tanker prices in Bengaluru to stop the exploitation of citizens amid the water crisis.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Mar 08, 2024 | 3:39 PMUpdatedMar 08, 2024 | 3:39 PM

Water tankers waiting at a borewell point to fill and supply water in Bengaluru

The Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB) dropped a bombshell on Friday, 8 March, issuing a directive that forbids the general public from using potable (drinkable) water for non-consumption activities.

This includes a laundry list of prohibitions including cleaning, washing vehicles, tending to gardens, erecting buildings, constructing roads, or even indulging in the frivolity of water fountains and decorations.

Those caught red-handed or reported for violating this directive will be slapped with a penalty of ₹5,000, and an additional ₹500 will be tacked onto the fine for each day of continued defiance, as per the BWSSB’s order.

Malls and theatres haven’t escaped unscathed either, receiving explicit instructions to confine their water consumption strictly to drinking purposes.

Karnataka government takes action

This order comes against the grim backdrop of an acute water crisis in Bengaluru and its rural neighbourhoods. The scorching summer has exacerbated the situation over the past week, with civic authorities grappling to alleviate water scarcity, particularly in the outskirts of Bengaluru.

Approximately 110 villages have recently been incorporated into the city corporation limits, where borewells are running dry due to the rapid depletion of the groundwater table.

On 7 March, the Karnataka government joined the battle, imposing caps on private water tanker prices in Bengaluru to thwart the exploitation of citizens amid the water crisis. The prices, which were once a reasonable ₹450 to ₹600 for a 6,000-litre water tanker in January, spiralled inexplicably in February, reaching the exorbitant range of ₹1,200 to ₹2,000.

Tanker owners and public borewell proprietors attributed this surge to the dwindling groundwater table, justifying their high prices by the dry spells in their borewells. In response to this issue, the government intervened, mandating all water tankers to register with the civic authorities (BBMP) and instituting price caps.

The BWSSB then fortified these measures by issuing a directive to penalise the use of potable water for non-consumption purposes. “As per Articles 33 and 34 of the BWSSB Act 1964, we have decided to ban the usage of drinking water for non-essential purposes. Anyone found violating the above order will be fined ₹5,000. For subsequent violations, ₹500 will be added to the fine on a per-day basis to the principal fine of ₹5,000,” the BWSSB order stated.

In tandem with these efforts, the water supply authority inaugurated a dedicated call centre — 1916 — to field queries and receive complaints related to violations of recent directives.

B’luru water crisis: ‘City of lakes’ needs more than quick-fix solutions

Not all of Bengaluru affected

According to the BWSSB, Bengaluru city has a population of 1.40 crore, including the floating population. “It is crucial task supplying drinking water to all of the 1.40 crore population of Bengaluru city. With the summer heat intensifying and groundwater table depleting, it is necessary to stop the wastage of drinking water to ensure its availability for citizens,” the order stated.

BWSSB Chairman Ram Prasad Manohar told South First, “There is no water scarcity in core Bengaluru areas where Cauvery water is being supplied. The water crisis is being witnessed at the outskirts of the city where Cauvery water supply has not yet commenced. The actual demand of Bengaluru city is 1,450 MLD per day and we have more than its capacity. We are currently supplying 1,472 MLD to meet the demands,” Manohar said.

Elaborating on the water tanker price capping, BWSSB officials outlined fixed rates within a 5 km radius: ₹600 for a 6,000-litre tanker, ₹700 for an 8,000-litre tanker, and ₹1,000 for a 12,000-litre tanker. For distances beyond 5 km but within 10 km, rates are set at ₹750, ₹850, and ₹1,200, respectively, for the same tanker capacities.

These standardised rates, inclusive of GST, are applicable to all contracted private tankers supplying water to Bengaluru city.