The water crisis in Kolar district’s Bethamangala couldn’t get any worse. The region usually gets its water supply from the Bethamangala dam. But the drought this year has been so bad that the Bethamangala reservoir hasn’t just dropped down to dead storage, it’s gone bone dry.
“There is not a single drop of water available in the dam as there has been no inflow of water for a long time now and this has also contributed to the condition even before the summer months. Now the borewells have dried up and people are depending on tanker water,” said an official from the Karnataka Water Supply and Drainage Board (KWSDB), the agency that manages the reservoir.
Earlier, the water in the British-era Bethamangala reservoir would meet the needs of the entire town. The British had built an extensive network of pipelines, which supplied water from the reservoir to the entire area. But with the reservoir drying up, residents have no choice but to cough up a hefty price of Rs 2 per pot of water.
“The people in the region are now buying tanker water. Over 300 tankers supply water to this region and residents are paying Rs 2 for one pot of water. The ones who can afford to, are now buying water cans,” the official said.
According to Former Deputy Commissioner of Kolar, Manoj Kumar Meena, the KWSDB has 340 borewells out of which it draws water from 170. But the quantum of water available from these is woefully inadequate to supply the Bethamangala area.
“This water is mostly supplied to the KGF and Robertsonpet areas. The KWSDB has built pipelines which connect these borewells to Bethamangala. But due to the severe crunch in water supply, the water board is supplying water to Bethamangala only thrice a month,” he added.
The official at the KWSDB said that the daily requirement of water for the area is 75 lakh litres but the agency is getting only 5.5 lakh litres. Currently, each person in Bethamangala is allotted 35 litres of water daily, as against an actual requirement of 135 litres.
“The 35 litres of water that people are getting is also not on a daily basis. This is because of rampant pilferage of water from the tanks across the area. There is a huge pilferage system in the storm water drains that supply rainwater to these tanks, which has not been checked. Hence their water levels have also come down,” the former DC said.