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As Bengaluru dries up, dhobis find it hard to get water to wash clothes

City gradually slides into crisis.

By Sreekanth A. Nair

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Bengaluru is experiencing severe water scarcity as lakes and other water bodies are drying up. There’s a group of people who are affected badly by the crisis: washer men — or ‘dhobis’ as they are commonly called.

According to a report in New Indian Express, each dhobi ghat in Bengaluru washes an average of 15,000 to 20,000 clothes a day and they need about 20,000 liters of water for it. But the livelihood of these washer men is in trouble as they are finding it extremely difficult to find water for their work.

The water level in bore wells had gone down due to the drought-like situation and the washer men have been resorting to importing water in tankers that cost Rupees 600 ($9) each.

“This is the first time we are facing such a crisis. The BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board) has to provide us with at least one line of free water from Sankey Tank as we are serving the public. The government should also give us subsidized electricity to run the washing machines,” C Raju, general secretary of Malleswaram Dhobi Ghat, told New Indian Express.

Malleswaram is considered as the biggest dhobi ghat in the city that employs more than 400 workers. It is estimated that one lakh liters of water have decreased in the wells of Malleswaram ghats. They are compelled to import water in tankers from far off places for the required 20,000 liters of additional water a day.

They have to bear the cost of imported water from their pockets as their clients are not willing to give additional payment for washing clothes. Most of the dry cleaners of the city get their clothes washed from the ghats.

Washermen have reduced the rotation of water for reducing the usage. Sometimes it’s very difficult for them to get water as it is in high demand in the construction industry.

“Borewell water is supplied for exactly 10 minutes because the depth is low. We fill as much as we can. We work in shifts and that solves the problem to an extent,” Y.C. Ramesh, secretary of the Yelahanka Washermen’s Association was quoted as saying by The Hindu.