Bengaluru: Crippling water shortage leaves hospitals high and dry

The severe water crisis in Bengaluru has adversely affected hospitals, forcing them to depend on highly-priced water tankers to meet their large-scale requirement.
Vydehi Hospital in Whitefield
Vydehi Hospital in Whitefield
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The alarming water crisis in Bengaluru has hit hospitals in parts of the city severely and left them grappling to meet their daily requirements. Dried-up borewells, infrequent supply of Cauvery water connections and surging costs of tankers have made it difficult for hospitals to cater to patients. As hospitals provide emergency services, they have been left with no choice, but to procure water at higher prices daily. 

Hospitals in Whitefield, one of the worst affected areas, complained that the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) water connection had become irregular and water tankers had increased the cost several times due to high demand.

Talking to TNM, the CEO of Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Whitefield, Dr Ravi Babu, said, “We require about 8 to 10 lakh litres of water daily. Our borewells can barely fulfil the need and the BWSSB has stopped their supply to this area. We are forced to buy water from tankers whose prices are frequently increasing.” He added that the price for water tankers have soared from Rs 80 per kilolitre to Rs 120 per kilolitre within six months.

Vydehi Institute has an average of about 700 patients coming in daily. Besides the hospital, there are separate institutions for Medical Sciences, Dental Sciences, Biotechnology, and Nursing under Vydehi Institute, which consists of about 4,000 students and around 500 staff. “I can't tell these people that we don’t have water. We cannot ration it like gated societies or other institutions since we don’t know when a patient will need water. If I don’t agree to the demand of the water tankers, they will shift their supply to nearby residents or shops, who need comparatively less water and will be ready to pay the surging cost,” Dr Ravi said. 

Adding to that, he said the hospital had alerted the BWSSB many times about the situation and had paid the statutory amount, but did not receive proper answers. “We need the help of BWSSB in this,” he said.

Other hospitals in the area have also been forced to depend on water tankers primarily. According to citizen activist Sandeep Anirudhan, poor governance and lack of policy implementation are the main reasons for the ongoing crisis. He said, “Although the BWSSB claims there is adequate supply of water, people in Whitefield do not receive it regularly. They depend on tankers which fetch water from borewells that are located far away, and sell them at higher prices.” 

Narasimha Moorthy, the Engineering Head of Apollo Hospitals, Bannerghatta, also expressed his worries about tackling the crisis. “We are facing such scarcity for the first time, and it is just the start of the summer. Hospitals should be prioritised, as we can’t compromise the medical needs of the public. As we depend heavily on tankers now, that too at an increased cost, we have to spend at least Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 for water altogether daily.” The hospital had two borewells, which gave at least two lakh litres of water daily, but they are dried up. Even though they have a BWSSB connection, it is not enough to meet their requirements, and they make use of 40 to 50 water tankers daily. 

BWSSB Chief Engineer Suresh told TNM that the increase in IT hubs and residential buildings in the Whitefield area has led to increased demand. “We have not cut any connections. In certain areas, we supply water once a week due to the large requirement.”

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