Should Bengaluru start charging fee for borewell water usage?
news Monday, February 16, 2015 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | February 16, 2015 | 4.41 pm IST As ground water levels in and around Bengaluru plunge, one possible means that could help check over-exploitation is in limbo, as it is simply not covered by law. At a recent conference held on ground water, one of the suggestions included that a fee be fixed for the usage of ground water through borewells. However, the two departments of the government under whose jurisdiction falls, say that this particular measure is not within their powers to implement in the absence of a law. Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board Chairman (BWSSB) Anjum Parwez told The News Minute that he had suggested at a recent conference of the Confederation of Indian Industry on ground water, that borewell water could be charged as a means to check excessive ground water usage.Â â€śGround water is being exploited too much in urban areas. This could be a deterrent to use less water. There should be some mechanism to check usage of borewell water. This was just a suggestion,â€ť he said, adding that it was for the department for mines and geology to grant permission for digging borewells. However, sources in the Department of Mines and Geology said on condition of anonymity that it was not for the their department to give permissions for borewells. â€śApplications for borewells are first filed with the BWSSB, which then forwards them to us. We conduct a feasibility study and give our report to the BWSSB committee, which then gives permissions. It is the BWSSB which charges for water supply,â€ť the source said. Parwez however, said: â€śI canâ€™t charge for what I donâ€™t supply. Underground water resources belong to the government and on behalf of the state, the department of mines and geology is the custodian of these resources. If someone wants iron ore, the mines and geology department gives permission and charges for it.â€ť Sources in the department of mines and geology told The News Minute that since 2009, ground water levels in Bengaluru Urban and Bengaluru Rural districts have been classified as â€śover-exploitedâ€ť. Ideally, ground water should be available around 400-700 feet below ground, but an explosion of borewells in the region has led to water levels plummeting to between 700 and over 1000 feet below surface level. Environmental activist Leo Saldana said that such a measure would indeed be welcome as long as it was aimed at the right users of water. â€śLarge commercial facilities such as malls and commercial complexes, and high-end apartments which can sell houses for as much as Rs 1.3 crore need to pay a steep price. These apartments are over-drawing water, and usage is not limited to 100 litres per capita but is around 300-400 litres per capita,â€ť he said.Â He added that it would be â€śinhumanâ€ť to charge poor and middle class people for using borewells as they simply did not have supply of piped water and dug borewells even though ground water in the city is â€śundrinkableâ€ť. TweetÂ Follow @thenewsminuteÂ Follow @anisha_w