From the first morning ritual of brushing our teeth to the final face or handwash at the end of the day, we use water – the elixir of life – with not much of a thought. Just switch the motor on and the water enters the tank for our daily tapping. Long gone are the days when we could easily look for streams of natural water in the middle of cities and urban areas. Bangalore, one of the biggest melting pots of all cultures in India, is a growing city. With thousands of people travelling to and fro and even thousands more settling down in this modern technological metropolis, the water need of the city also is growing.

Why Busy Bangalore Remained Shut on SaturdayAs of early 2014, the green city’s water consumption was about 1400 million litres per day (MLD). With more than a hundred villages, under Bangalore city administration, there is an increasing water scarcity problem developing in the city. Water from the Kaveri and the Arkavathy rivers are not enough the quench the thirst of the Bangaloreans. To battle with this issue, several measures have been put into place by the government.

From 2014, water is also pumped from the Nethravathy river for Bangalore’s water supply. A rain water harvesting program, similar to the one implemented in Chennai a few years ago, has also been begun. Plugging of unaccounted for water (UFW) leakage project is already in progress in several locations. A new waste water recycling plant along river Arkavathy shows some positive prospects. But the current destabilized water table is unable to support the growing population of Bangalore. One such step for harvesting potable water is the “Mini-KRS” Mekedaatu project at the confluence of the Arkavathy and the Kaveri.

A new waste water recycling plant along river Arkavathy shows some positive prospects. But the current destabilized water table is unable to support the growing population of Bangalore. One such step for harvesting potable water is the “Mini-KRS” Mekedaatu project at the confluence of the Arkavathy and the Kaveri.

With a storage capacity of 48 thousand million cubic feet (TMC), the Mekedaatu project might mean the end of the water shortage in Bangalore. If one were to do the math, 48 TMC translates to about a 3 year uninterrupted pure water supply to meet Bangalore’s thirst of about 1400 MLD (as of 2014). There is always a ‘BUT’ clause in the politics of a democratic nation. Farmers in Tamilnadu’s Kaveri delta region are dependent on the same water for their livelihoods.

When Karnataka allocated Rs. 25 crores in its budget for the Mekedaatu project, alarm bells rang and the farmers went on a bandh on 28th March 2015. Tamilnadu stood against the Mekedaatu project in toto despite Karnataka’s contention that it intends the project only for potable water and not irrigation purposes. Bangalore’s response to Tamilnadu’s stance is the Bandh on April 18th. The 12 hour bandh has had a crippling effect on the common man’s life though it has only been for 12 hours straight. There may be more such to follow in the near future.

So what is the solution? Only if both state governments engage in transparent dialogs, can we come to resolve the current water crisis. Joint construction, ownership and operation of the proposed Mekedaatu project could be a possible long-term solution. But interstate, inter-party and within-party politics make it difficult to establish such a democratic move.

As the resource scarcity continues, the democratic drama ensues…