Institute for Social and Economic Change

Working Paper: 307

Where All the Water Has Gone? An Analysis of Unreliable Water Supply in Bangalore City

Krishna Raj



The demand for urban water supply service is increasing rapidly as globalisation accelerates economic development and brings improvements in living standards in India with the interactive effects of demographic growth and influx of migrants into cities due to push and pull factors. Provision of reliable and safe water supply to urban habitat is an essential input for overall economic and social advancement. However, urban local bodies mandated to perform this task in India have been experiencing constant budgetary bottlenecks in mobilizing resources to meet the water consumption targets of the present as well as future population. Urban water supply sector in India and particularly the study area Bangalore is facing a number of challenges and constraints in meeting one of the important components of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), i.e., to ensure supply of adequate potable water to half the number of people who are currently living without access to sustainable, safe drinking water sources by 2015. These problems and constraints include increasing scarcity of water, low pricing, high subsidy, poor cost recovery, high transmission and distribution (T&D) losses, due to poor maintenance, rising unaccounted-for (UFW) and non-revenue water outgo (NRW). Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is experiencing poor cost recovery and has been unable to generate enough revenue to meet the investment requirements of the growing water needs of the city. BWSSB is also facing serious performance gaps such as reliability, financial sustainability, environmental sustainability and affordability due to deterioration of infrastructure.

Working Papers