Supply of packaged drinking water in several parts of Bengaluru has been affected after the total lockdown that came into effect from Tuesday midnight.
There are many sides to the problem. One, packaged water distributors are unable to fetch cans from bottling companies due to the lockdown. Two, distributors are unable to supply cans to residents who place orders through phone calls. Several distributors in the city have stopped answering their phones as the demand for packaged water has soared and they are unable to meet it.
The other side of the story is that offices being the biggest customers of water cans, the lockdown has led to a sudden drop in demand, especially in the IT corridor. And although there is a spurt in demand from homes, the system has not reconfigured itself to streamline supply to new customers. The lockdown has not helped the situation.
Aishwarya Sudhir, a resident of Jayanagar, tweeted: “RO water cans at Jayanagar 4th T Block are not available at the grocery stores owing to no supply. Some of us do not have purifiers installed, boiling and drinking borewell water feels like hell!”
|Speaking to Citizen Matters, Rohini Katoch Sepat, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South), said, “We have not received such complaints from anybody yet. But in case anyone has that problem, they can approach us immediately. Water is an essential service and we will issue passes to the water distributors so that they can supply water to residents.”|
Kiran S, owner of Kiran Mineral Water from Katriguppe in South Bengaluru, explained: “The number of water cans being sold has come down due to the lockdown. All the suppliers have restricted supply only to their areas and we are not accepting orders from distant areas due to the lockdown. Most distributors have not been attending many calls.”
Kiran also noted that the increased demand and inadequate supply had led to a rise in price of these 30 ltr water cans. “Water cans that were sold at Rs 30 per unit are now being sold at Rs 50 in areas where high-rise apartments are more. We still need to see what is going to happen in coming days,” he said.
Krishna Kumar, a drinking water supplier in Mathikere, said: “Almost all the RO water distributors have their own plant but we need to fill only by going there. This is not possible as there is complete lockdown. We have been supplying available cans only within our area, that too for our regular customers. And obviously the price too has gone up in a few areas.”
On the other hand, in the IT corridor, packaged water distributors have seen a fall in demand due to shutting down of offices. Narayana Gowda, a distributor from Hoodi in East Bengaluru said: “The sale of water cans has come down. There were about 1,100 water cans being sold every day to the areas around Whitefield and East Bengaluru. Now the number of cans has come down to 500-600.”
Meanwhile, RO water-filling booths (water ATMs) set up through local MLA funds or the BBMP (as the case may be) have come to the aid of residents. Water at these booths, which exist in larger numbers in the drier North Bengaluru, are sold at a cost of Rs 5 for 20 litres.