Depleting reserve

The prospect of a water famine looms over Bangalore. Experts are warning that in five years from now the city could be in the grip of a severe water crisis. Parts of Bangalore — mainly its outlying neighbourhoods — are already struggling with severe water shortage. This could become a city-wide problem. There are several reasons for the growing scarcity. One, of course, is mounting demand; the city’s population has grown manifold over the past decade. With water from the Cauvery, T G Halli and other surface water sources failing to meet growing demands, Bangalore has turned to tapping groundwater sources. Indeed, 40 per cent of Bangalore’s current water consumption is being met by groundwater sources. But this unsustainable exploitation of groundwater is taking a heavy toll. It has depleted this source too.

Unplanned development has contributed to this situation. Thousands of apartment complexes have sprung up in and around Bangalore, each one competing with the other in reaching lower into the earth to draw water. In the process, the ground has literally been sucked dry.

Bangalore was once known for its innumerable lakes. However, illegal encroachment of these water bodies by land sharks in recent years has deprived the city of its water sources. This encroachment has happened with the active connivance of city authorities who have turned a blind eye to this menace. It is well known that BBMP contractors dump solid waste in these lakes. In the circumstances, it is not surprising that there is an acute water crisis.

The looming water crisis is man-made. It can be averted. City authorities must crack down on encroachment of water bodies and rampant construction of buildings. Groundwater extraction needs to be regulated. Rainwater harvesting must be made compulsory, especially for apartment complexes, institutions and businesses.

Recycling waste water must be taken seriously. At present, only a tenth of the city’s waste water is being recycled. Thus there is gross underutilisation of waste water. The creation of wetlands through planting trees must be pursued by the government on a war footing. Experts have also drawn attention to the merits of tree-based parks over lawns. Tackling water scarcity is, however, not the concern of authorities alone. Bangalore’s residents too have a role to play. We must stop irresponsible consumption of water if we are to make water scarcity history.

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