Bangalore- Urban water issues for the poorMarch 11, 2008
Near the Byatrayanpura zonal office of the Bangalore Corporation,is this ‘mini water supply scheme’ as a bore well connected to a cistern is called in this part of the country. People in the suburbs, especially in the low income bracket, get water once in two days near their house. Tis water is apparently not good for drinking or cooking. The dal (lentils) does not get cooked according to this lady. So they collect good water from this cistern. That means queuing up with their plastic pots at 4.00 a.m. in the morning for everybody’s quota of 2 pots of good water for drinking and cooking. Again the process is repeated at 12.00 noon but this time for water which comes in the evening.
Fights and disagreements are regular as is jumping the queue and stealing of pots too. The pots themselves are made of low grade plastic and are not fit for potable water purpose. They crack in the sunlight and need to be replaced ever so often.
Shiva, who helped bring Ganga down from the heavens, taking her force on his matted locks also looks on benignly. The very God’s seem powerless in this day of water shortage.
Question is will not 24/7 water supply help these people? Will they not spend less time and money even if water is privatized as some people claim it will be or already is? For 2 pots of water the lady spends at least 6 hours of her time daily. Even at Rs 5 /- an hour as opportunity cost this translates to Rs 30/- for 30 litres or Rs 1 /- a litre.
Per kilolitre the cost would be Rs 1000/- . Nowhere has this cost been imposed on people by private sector, but this is the cost imposed by the State here with its sheer inefficiency of delivery of goods low quality and even less quantity and no accountability.
Can we not change the system with even private participants who are held accountable for their actions? When shall we do that? When the human right to water is legislated perhaps and when governments are open and transparent in their dealings. On the one hand we have an insensitive state and on the other a passive community not willing to demand what is their right.