For a majority of them, it was their first ever chance to speak as people’s representatives. That too on a pressing issue. As BWSSB Chairman P B Ramamurthy put it, "It was a golden opportunity. I couldn’t have got so much information from anywhere else".
For two days, corporators from across Bengaluru voiced their concerns over water-related problems in their wards. Demands for borewells, jetting machines, regular desilting and replacement of old pipes with new ones, were made. Complaints ranged from lack of cooperation from local BWSSB officials, to the need to hold monthly meetings with engineers. The occasional bouquet too was thrown in, though that too was followed by rants.
While some kept it ‘short and sweet’, others attempted to make long-drawn speeches and script out the water history of their respective wards.
Here are some of the exchanges that took place in this special BBMP council session on water.
As soon as we step out of our house, people ask us questions about water, drains and garbage. You (BWSSB) need to give us priority because we are answerable to the people who have elected us – Ashwath Narayanagowda, BJP, Kodigehalli (Ward 8)
Sewage is overflowing in my ward. If there are any chikungunya or dengue deaths in my ward, the BWSSB will be responsible – Sampath Raj R, Congress, Deverajeevanahalli (Ward 47)
We aren’t getting any solutions from BWSSB officials. I have requested for a meeting with the watermen and other BWSSB officials in my ward. I have got no response so far – K Poornima, Congress, Basavanapura (Ward 53)
There is Cauvery water for areas around my ward, HAL II stage and those areas. But my ward which is at the centre does not get any water – Siddalingaiah, BJP, HAL Airport (Ward 87)
When the BWSSB cuts roads to lay pipes, please make sure you patch the road properly once work is done. Or otherwise at least coordinate with the BBMP’s engineering department – Mohan Kumar, BJP, Govindarajnagar (Ward 104)
90 per cent of my ward does not get water. Give water for at least two hours a day, but give it with more pressure – A L Shivakumar, BJP, Chickpet (Ward 109)
Since I am an independent, I have not got the advantage of being in a party. I was told that borewells will be drilled in my ward, but not even one has come up. My ward is includes major roads that attract tourists. Most of the media houses are also located in my ward. They come and question me if there’s any problem – Shivakumar K, Independent, Shantala Nagar (Ward 111)
No water is supplied, but water bills are being sent regularly. I request you to waive off these bills – Lokesh, Congress, Neelasandra (Ward 116)
Please increase the salary of the valve men and educate them – P M Saroja, Congress, Ejipura (Ward 148)
In my ward there was no problem before elections. The problem started after elections. Officials say it is because of power cuts – Jayappa Reddy C R, BJP, Hebbal (Ward 21)
In the past one month, we haven’t been able to do any other work in our ward except water and sanitation – Manjunath, BJP, Shivanagar (Ward 107)
There are six to seven slums in my ward. You are supposed to give around 120 litres per person per day. We don’t even get half of that – Muni Sanjeevaiah, Congress, Jayanagar east (Ward 170)
Do not neglect my ward thinking, ‘What will this woman do?’. Just because I don’t talk loudly or fight, don’t ignore me. We want two borewells in the ward. Old pipes need to be replaced – Nazni Begum, Independent, Padarayanapura (Ward 135)
While most of the first-timers spoke about specific problems, party leaders used this opportunity to take a dig at one another. This led to periodic interruptions during the session, with the mayor having to ask them to calm down and talk only about their ward issues.
Earlier the water board was meant to be to serve the public. You would find taps and borewells on street corners. Today, the board has become like a business. One day the government will say they’ll give 24 hour water supply. Then they’ll go back to sleep. Then they’ll say they’ll build artificial lakes. Then they’ll again go back to sleep. Where’s the development? – Leader of the Opposition M Nagaraj, Congress, Nandini Layout (Ward 43)
There is one AEE for 40 wards. We haven’t been able to speak to our AEE Malla Reddy for two months. There should be one AEE for every two wards – JD(S) Floor leader Padmanabha Reddy, Kacharkanahalli (Ward 29)
Call for a meeting with all the AEs and AEEs. Also, a lot water is being lost because of leakage. This must be reduced – BJP Floor leader B S Sathyanarayana, Basavanagudi (Ward 154)
BWSSB’s duty is maintenance. Providing water is a fundamental duty of the BBMP. BBMP should ensure water supply. It’s one thing to have the BWSSB Chairman here, but what will the BBMP Commissioner do to solve the water problem? – Former Mayor K Chandrashekar, Congress, Hanumanthanagar (Ward 155)
‘Jai ho’ BWSSB?
Complaints about water being directed to neighbouring wards, inactive engineers and much more. But they all had one request of the BWSSB. ‘Give us a solution before the session ends. We have to go back to our wards and face the people’.
In my ward, the sewage and water lines are getting mixed. So I’ve decided to lay a pipeline using my own money and donations from friends. For this, all I need is your permission for road-cutting. I’ll bear all the costs and patch up the road neatly after the work. I only request your permission for road-cutting – Munirathna, Congress, Yeshwanthpur (Ward 37)
When we were elected, we were very excited to be corporators. But in the past one month that excitement has gone, because of BWSSB! – Geetha Vivekananda, BJP, Vijnana nagar (Ward 81)
We are no longer BBMP corporators. We have become BWSSB corporators – Gangabyraiah, BJP, Dr Raj Kumar ward (Ward 106)
The officials sitting here today know all the problems. But they are sitting quietly today. None of them are taking responsibility. It is shameful that the situation has been allowed to reach this far where we are not able to provide water – Ravindra H, BJP, Vijaynagar (Ward 123)
People are cursing us for the amount of time that is being spent for this session on water. People are asking me. I don’t know what to tell them. We are using public money for this. Water, sanitation, electricity – people call us for everything. We are the ones who are answerable. BBMP and BWSSB officials have been give mobile phones by the government. Our (corporators) phones are from our own money and people call only us – M Udayshankar, Congress, Siddapura (Ward 144)
If you call the AEEs or EEs, they ask us, ‘What will you do? Will you get us transferred, will you send us to jail?’ – Jyothi Shri Harireddy, Congress, Karisandra (Ward 166)
Some cookie points for BWSSB
But it was not all booing down the water board. Some even had a good thing or two to say. Like BWSSB Minister Katta Subramanya Naidu’s son Jagadish, for instance, who said he has no complaints about water supply in his ward.
The BWSSB officials are working. But they are helpless. I don’t entirely hold the BWSSB responsible, civic responsibility should also be there. Educate the citizens, ban plastic. Replace sanitary lines. Do all this and then I’ll say ‘Jai BWSSB’ – Mohammad Rizwan Nawab, Congress, Gurappanapalya (Ward 171)
I congratulate the Chief Minister because it is the first time that a Minister has been appointed for BWSSB. Water problem has existed 137 years back itself when the Britishers were there. There is no problem in my ward because of the High Grounds reservoir. May be it’s my luck. People may say there won’t be any problem because I am a minister’s son. But even if anyone else was elected from my ward, they would not have had any water problem – Katta Jagadish, BJP, Vasanthnagar (Ward 93)
But here’s saving the best for last!
I have asked for borewells but have got no response. Me being a senior corporator, the BWSSB hasn’t responded to me only, then why will they listen to others?! – S H Padmaraj, BJP, Basaveshwara Nagar (Ward 100)
If officials don’t come to the spot when you call them, we have to send rowdies. Only then they come! – Krishna V, BJP, Bapuji Nagar (Ward 134) ⊕
BWSSB to start hiring to redress water crisis
Councillors demand more borewells in the wards
A good litany of gripes listed by city fathers and mothers.
What is missing is an effort by leaders to come forward with feasible solutions. Merely asking the authority to dig more wells is akin to depending upon a depleting resource. What will the leaders of the city do when the water table goes down and becomes very difficult to reach?
Gripe sessions may be good as emotional safety valves but do not address a very critical problem in a major metropolis.
Half the issue is that water supply has been entrusted to the para-statal BWSSB. As per the 74th amendment to the constitution, water supply needs to be with the urban local body, not some other body reporting to the state government!
chandrashekhar is also right in saying -BWSSB’s duty is maintenance. Providing water is a fundamental duty of the BBMP. BBMP should ensure water supply. It’s one thing to have the BWSSB Chairman here, but what will the BBMP Commissioner do to solve the water problem