City's water bodies lost: CSE report

The City’s rapid growth has come at a heavy price – in the form of the loss of its lakes and ponds, according to  a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) report.

“These water bodies are now either repositories for sewage or have been turned into prime real estate,” a study conducted by the CSE revealed. “As a result, even with huge investments and projects for bringing water to the City – including the much debated Greater Bangalore Water and Sanitation Project (GBWASP) – the water crisis has become real and regular,” the report said.

According to the land use classification, bodies of water such as lakes, tanks and ponds, consituted four per cent of Bangalore’s metropolitan area in the past and were instrumental in providing the City with much of its drinking water. Such bodies were also responsible for recharging Bangalore’s groundwater.

But since their demise, the City has been forced to turn to the Cauvery river and only groundwater to meet its ever-growing needs, the report said.

There are currently no reliable estimates for the amount of groundwater still remaining in Bangalore.

“Some researchers have counted wells and studied tanker mafias but the information is limited to case studies,” said Sunita Narain, Director of the CSE. But she added that despite the damage done to the environment, Bangalore is making an effort to change.

“It is thinking big and trying out several new things. The real challenge for Bangalore in the coming years would be to turn that thought into action – learn to recycle and reuse. That is where the future lies,” she said.

BWSSB Chairman Gaurav Gupta said: “The power cost of supplying Cauvery River water is Rs 300 crore per year. Therefore, over a 30-year life cycle, the operations and management expenditure exceeds capital costs. We can get this in the form of grants and loans, but what about covering the operation costs of sourcing water from a distance.”

Currently, however, Bangalore is still looking to the Cauvery for water.

The Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal has earmarked 600 cusec (or 1,470 MLD) of water from the river for the City. But this river water is being contested as farmers say their fair share is being taken away for cities and industries.

The CSE director has also pointed out that drawing water from Cauvery is inefficient.

“Distance leads to high transmission losses, it leads to high costs of energy and high costs of repair. Therefore, it is important that the City looks at developing local water bodies,” she said.

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