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Regulating Bangalore's growth to save it from water crisis

Bangalore, July 20, 2013 (IANS):
Cauvery water supply project, Torekadana halli treatment at Mandya District. DH photo

The Karnataka government seems to be waking up to the need to regulate the growth of state capital Bangalore to save it from facing a more severe water shortage in the coming years.

Governments over the years have not heeded warnings from official agencies themselves that the city is headed for water famine by 2020 if the growth, spurred after Bangalore became  the nation's IT hub in the 1990s, is not regulated.

In the last five years, massive residential complexes with around 100,000 flats have come up in various parts of the city. Most of them are dependent on ground water as the surface water supply is woefully inadequate to meet the growing demand.

The surface water supply is from the Cauvery river and from three water bodies in the city. All of them depend on the monsoon to get recharged.

The monsoon (June-Sept) this year has been good so far in Bangalore as well as in the Cauvery's catchment areas, but it was very poor last year.

The situation was so bad that early this year that the authorities had talked of rationing water in Bangalore. However, the plan was dropped as assembly elections were due in May.

With more multi-storeyed residential complexes coming up in new areas in the city, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB) recently warned buyers that it was not in a position to supply water to these complexes.

It cautioned buyers against falling for advertisements from promoters of scores of new complexes promising Cauvery water.

Such warnings and complaints from many flat buyers that they are facing a severe water crisis have now prompted the government to think of regulating the construction of huge residential complexes in the city.

The government move followed concern expressed in the legislature Thursday by several members.

Permission for high-rise apartments will be given only after the promoter proves availability of adequate water supply to the complex, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced in the legislative council.

The BWSSB and the BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike or Greater Bangalore City Corporation) will be directed not to allow complexes to come up unless there was an assured water source, he said.

Agreeing with members that most of the highrise apartment complexes were dependent on ground water, Siddaramaiah said this was one of the reasons for the city's depleting ground water table.

In many areas, ground water is not available even at a depth of 1,000 ft. The chief minister promised to direct the authorities to ensure that real estate promoters adhere to the rule that all housing complexes with 100 or more flats should have a water treatment plant and also harvest rainwater.

With feverish construction activity - both residential and commercial - extending beyond the BBMP area, the government will also come out with a comprehensive development plan (CDP) for the Bangalore Metropolitan Region that is spread over 8,000 sq km.

The Bangalore Metropolitan Region comprises areas around the new Bangalore international airport at Devanahalli and of Anekal, Magadi, Kanakapura, Hoskote, Nelamangala,  Ramanagaram and Channapatna, all within 35 km (Devanahalli) to 60 km (Channapatna) from the Bangalore city centre.


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