India’s Silicon Valley parched due to mismanagement
bANGALOrE: India’s Silicon Valley is bracing for yet another thirsty summer.
Taps are running dry and the lakes that once nurtured the southern city of Bangalore and its nearly 10 million residents are either parched or fetid with industrial waste and toxic effluents.
Much like Cape Town in South Africa, Bangalore’s water woes have been in the making for some time. Years of unplanned urbanisation, rapid population growth and poor management of water resources have now reached a critical point in the southern Indian metropolis.
A 2016 study by the Energy and Wetlands Research Group at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore showed that the city’s water bodies declined by as much as 80% between 1973 and 2016.
Over that same period, the concrete area in the city, once known for its gardens and lakes, went up by more than 1,000%.
T.V. Ramachandra, the scientist who led the study, said mismanagement of both land and water resources has led to the current crisis, in which the city is now critically dependent on the Cauvery river and the annual monsoon rains as its principal sources of drinking water.
The lakes that once provided natural rainwater reservoirs and helped recharge groundwater have largely given up the fight against rampant encroachment. The few that have survived the onslaught are struggling.
Images of Bellandur Lake, the city’s largest water body, covered with a foamy mix of filth, routinely make the headlines.
Another major lake, Ulsoor, is choked with garbage and construction waste and is gasping under a blanket of thick waterweeds.
And as the thirsty city looks desperately for water, borewells are digging deeper and deeper, each year depleting what remains of the city’s groundwater.
Large water storage tanks line the rooftops of Bangalore’s new commercial and residential buildings, which are almost entirely dependent on private water suppliers.
A study recently published in a leading environmental magazine, Down to Earth said Bangalore could go the Cape Town way – and face acute water scarcity in the not-toodistant future.
The study said the water table in Bangalore has fallen from 10-12 metres to 76-91 metres below the surface in the last two decades as the number of extraction wells soared.
Mobile tankers have become the water lifeline for the city’s poorer residents, who line up every day to fill buckets and pots.
“There is severe crisis. The actual sufferers are the poor people living in the slums,” said rainwater harvesting expert Ayyappa Masagi. — AP
Tapping any source: A man fetching water from a concrete tank in an upcoming residential neighbourhood due to the water shortage in Bangalore.